Rouhani says no plans to meet Trump, citing US sanctions

TEHRAN, Sep. 25 (MNA) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News Monday that he had no plans to meet President Donald Trump during his visit to New York, saying the US had employed only threats and sanctions against the country.

In an interview with NBC Nightly News on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed any chance of meeting with US President Donald Trump during his visit to New York for the UN General Asembly meeting.

"Naturally, if someone is keen on having a meeting and holding dialogue and creating progress in relationships, that person would not use the tool of sanctions and threats [and bring] to bear all of its power against another government and nation," Rouhani said. "That means that the necessary willpower is absent in order to resolve outstanding issues."

Rouhani ruled out Washington's diplomacy with Pyongyang as a possible model for US-Iran relations, saying "the North Korean model cannot be a correct model, because we cannot draw such comparisons. But certainly there are different models out there that can be used."

As a precondition for any dialogue, Rouhani said the US would need to repair the damage done by exiting the 2015 nuclear deal. "That bridge must be rebuilt," he said.

Rouhani said Iran could withstand US economic sanctions and called Washington's threats to choke off Iranian oil exports an "empty promise."

"The United States is not capable of bringing our oil exports to zero," Rouhani said.

"It's a threat that is empty of credibility. Perhaps on this path, we will sustain certain pressures but certainly the United States will not reach its objective."

Rouhani said Iran would remain in the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite Washington's withdrawal, as long as the other signatories held up their end of the deal to open the door to trade.

"Until such time that our interests are guaranteed with the five remaining countries, we will remain within the JCPOA," Rouhani said, adding that "a one-sided agreement would be meaningless."

Asked if Iran would fulfill threats to close off the Strait of Hormuz to oil shipments, Rouhani said "if the United States wishes to use force in order to sanction the petroleum industry of Iran, it will certainly see the appropriate response.”

"We do have the power to secure our own waterways and keep our waterways free,” he added.

Asked if he was warning President Trump, Rouhani said, "this is not a warning. This is a reality. If the Persian Gulf waterway is to remain free and secure, it must remain so for everyone."

Rouhani's visit came amid US’ bellicose remarks in accusing Iran of being the reason behind a terrorist attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, which Iran says was perpetrated by "regional terror sponsors and their US masters."

Reacting to the remarks, Rouhani said "yesterday, one of the American officials clearly and openly supported these terrorists, and said that in Ahvaz if something took place, Iran must not seek the roots of that terrorist attack in other countries," he said.

"If this is indeed so, if this train of thought makes sense, how do we apply the same logic to the terrorist attacks of September 11th?"

Talking about the Syrian crisis, the president stressed that Iran’s “presence in Syria has only to do with the will of the Syrian government.”

"Whenever terrorists are defeated in Syria and terrorism ceases to exist in Syria, and the government of Syria has no need for us, then at that point our continued presence in Syria will not have any meaning or serve any purpose,” added Rouhani, stressing that events in Syria were moving in a positive direction.

MS

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