Iranian president says U.S. offered to remove all sanctions in exchange for talks

The United States offered to remove all sanctions on Iran in exchange for talks, but Tehran has not yet accepted the offer due to the current “toxic atmosphere,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday.

Rouhani, speaking on his return from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said he met there with U.S. officials at the insistence of Germany, Britain and France.

“It was up for debate what sanctions will be lifted, and they [the U.S.] had said clearly that we will lift all sanctions,” Rouhani said, according to his official website.

Iran was ready for negotiations, but not in an atmosphere of sanctions and pressure, the Iranian president said.

“This action wasn’t in a manner that was acceptable, meaning that in the atmosphere of sanctions and the existence of sanctions and the toxic atmosphere of maximum pressure, even if we want to negotiate with the Americans in the 5+1 framework, no one can predict what the end result of this negotiation will be,” Rouhani said.

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump contradicted Rouhani’s claim that the U.S. had offered to lift restrictions to facilitate a meeting, saying it was actually Iran who had put forward the request. 

Oil prices slipped on the report, adding to earlier losses caused by a faster-than-expected recovery in Saudi output, slowing Chinese economic growth and a Wall Street Journal report saying that Saudi Arabia had agreed a partial ceasefire in Yemen. Brent crude was trading below $62 US a barrel.

Rouhani did not meet Trump in New York, and European and Gulf officials expect Washington to keep tightening the vice on Iran’s economy.

The U.S. and Iran are at odds over a host of issues, including the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, U.S. accusations — denied by Tehran — that Iran attacked two Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14 and Iran’s detention of U.S. citizens on what the U.S. regards as spurious grounds.

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