Ghalibaf rejects as weak any settlement with Washington

June 6, 2020 - 13:35

TEHRAN — Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has strongly rejected any settlement with the United Sates as a weak move hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said a big deal between the two countries is possible.

“Do not be weak hearted and do not appeal for an (unjust) settlement; you have the upper hand,” Ghalibaf tweeted a verse of the Quran, which was written in both Arabic and Farsi. “God is with you and He will never reduce the reward for your deeds.”

He also attached a photo of Trump’s tweet that read, “So great to have Michael home. Just arrived. Very exciting. Thank you to Iran. Don’t wait until after U.S. Election to make the Big deal. I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!”

On Thursday, Tehran confirmed a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States and urged Washington to release all Iranian hostages held by the U.S. government.

“Pleased that Dr. Majid Taheri and Mr. White will soon be joining their families,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Thursday. “Prof. Sirous Asgari was happily reunited with his family on Weds.”

“This can happen for all prisoners,” Zarif said, adding, “No need for cherry picking. Iranian hostages held in—and on behalf of—the US should come home.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also confirmed on Thursday that Dr. Majid Taheri, an Iranian scientist who had been imprisoned in the U.S., was released from jail.

Taheri spent 16 months in prison for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

In his statement, Mousavi also said U.S. Navy veteran Michael White, who had been in jail in Iran, was released after being granted Islamic mercy for his crimes.

Mr. White was released from jail given the time served and in respect of human rights considerations, and left Iran on Thursday, Mousavi said.

Trump’s appeal for talks with Iran comes while his re-election chances are sinking fast – in part because of his administration’s poor performance in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the police killing of an unarmed African-American man, named George Floyd, which drew nationwide protests.

Mahmood Monshipouri, a professor of international relations at San Francisco State University and a lecturer at UC-Berkeley, tells the Tehran Times that “Trump’s policies have been consistently unsuccessful both at home and abroad.”     

According to the CNN, Trump is now a “decided underdog” to reach the 270 electoral votes he needs to win a second term in the fall.

“How bad are those [polling] numbers for Trump? To put a fine point on it: Really bad,” CNN Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza wrote in a piece published on Friday.

In what appeared to be another desperate appeal on Thursday, Trump tweeted: “We have now brought more than 40 American hostages and detainees back home since I took office. Thank you to Iran, it shows a deal is possible!”

We had a deal when you entered office, says Zarif

Responding to Trump’s tweets, Zarif said via Twitter that “We achieved humanitarian swap *despite* your subordinates' efforts.”

“And we had a deal when you entered office,” he said, referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that Iran signed with six world powers including the United States. 

“Iran & other JCPOA participants never left the table. Your advisors—most fired by now—made a dumb bet. Up to you to decide *when* you want to fix it.”

Other Iranian authorities were also quick to dismiss Trump’s call for talks.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), described Trump’s circumstances as disastrous given his coronavirus management and the “racist arson inside the U.S.”

“His team has no choice but to portray false successes for him,” Shamkhani tweeted on Friday. “The exchange of prisoners is not the result of negotiations & no talks will happen in future.”

Trump is in self-induced quagmire: Rezaee

Secretary of Iran's Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaee also rejected the notion of talks, saying Trump has created a quagmire for himself.

“Trump has said that come and negotiate with me now,” Rezaee wrote in a tweet on Friday. “Even if you come out of your self-induced quagmire, negotiation with you is poison. Let alone now that you are in the quagmire.”

Trump abandoned the JCPOA, which was signed during the Obama administration, on May 8, 2018 and introduced a maximum pressure policy in the hope of forcing Iran to come to the negotiating table to write a new deal with his own name on it. 

So far, Trump’s maximum pressure policy has failed. Iran waited a year until it began to partially reduce its commitments to the agreement at bi-monthly intervals. Finally, on January 5 of this year, Iran issued a statement announcing suspension of all limits under the JCPOA.

MH/PA

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