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Iran to U.S.: 'You have to pay more' for a new deal

Iran to U.S.: 'You have to pay more' for a new deal
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri -
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CARLO ALLEGRI(Reuters)
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By Parisa Hafezi and Michelle Nichols

UNITEDNATIONS (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that if the United States wanted an agreement beyond the 2015 nuclear deal it has abandoned “you have to pay more” and appeared to reject talks with U.S. President Donald Trump for now.

“Our response to talks under pressure is no,” Rouhani said in a prepared text of U.N. General Assembly speech obtained by Reuters as the United States raised the pressure by sanctioning Chinese firms for dealing in Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions.

The confrontation between Tehran and Washington has ratcheted up since last year, when Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled its economy.

In his U.N. speech on Tuesday, Trump accused Iranian leaders of “bloodlust” and called on other nations to join in applying pressure on Iran after Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities that Washington blames on Tehran despite its denials.

However, Trump also said there was a path to peace and Rouhani, the nuclear pact’s architect, has left the door open to diplomacy, saying that if sanctions were lifted, Washington could join nuclear talks between Tehran and other powers.

Despite the French and British leaders urging Rouhani to meet Trump, an Iranian official told Reuters there was no chance that the U.S. and Iranian presidents would meet while they are both in New York for this week’s annual gathering of world leaders.

An Iranian official was categorical in playing down the idea of Trump and Rouhani meeting this week and called for the United States to return to the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The chances of a meeting are zero. They know what to do. They should return to the JCPOA, lift sanctions and end this unfair maximum pressure on Iran. Then of course they can join the talks under the deal,” the Iranian official told Reuters.

Since abandoning the nuclear deal last year, Trump in May dramatically tightened sanctions on Iran in an effort to reduce its oil exports – its main source of foreign exchange and government revenues – to zero.

While it originally respected the deal despite Trump’s withdrawal, Iran has gradually reduced its compliance and has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, through which an estimated one-fifth of the world’s oil passes.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Michelle Nichols; Additional reporting by John Irish and Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Grant McCool)

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