Unlike Trump, Obama was a wise enemy: Larijani

August 21, 2019

TEHRAN – Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has ruled out the possibility of negotiations with the U.S. under the administration of Donald Trump, saying Iran accepted Obama’s offer to enter talks because he was a “wise enemy”.

“During the previous administration, the U.S. offered talks to Iran and Iran accepted … because our initial impression was that Mr. Obama was following some principles in his policies,” Larijani said in an interview with the NBC’s Lester Holt in Tehran.

“He was our enemy, but he was the wise enemy. It’s easier to interact with a wise enemy,” he said.

“I think the United States needs to correct its behavior. I think Mr. Trump ruined one important opportunity,” the speaker remarked.

He also said Washington’s behavior has “increased solidarity” of the Iranian public.

Asked whether he could confirm any backchannel communication between the two countries, Larijani said, “I don’t confirm this. There is no backchannel communication.”

He stressed that if the U.S. wants to talk with Iran, it needs to first come back to the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, which Iran struck with six world powers in 2015.

Lester Holt is visiting Iran and he has already held several interviews with senior Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Zarif, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, CBI Governor Hemmati, and Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani.

In his interview with the SNSC secretary, published on Tuesday, Shamkhani said the U.S. sanctions pressure against Iran are not for negotiation but intended to make Tehran surrender.

“As long as this approach is taken by the United States, Iran will never ever seek negotiations,” Shamkhani said.

“We had a case of successful negotiations with the JCPOA [the 2015 nuclear deal]. How come the United States departed from it?” he said.

He also said that Iran should never have signed the JCPOA.

He said that there were people in Iran who felt that signing the JCPOA was a mistake.

Asked if he was one of those people, Shamkhani said, “Yes. … I’m just following the viewpoints of my nation, the people of Iran.”

Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the UN-endorsed JCPOA in May 2018 and imposed the “toughest ever sanctions” against Iran in line with his administration’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran.

At the same time, Trump has pushed for talks with Iran but to no avail.

MH/PA

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