The Address | Benghazi – Libya
The United States is prepared to engage with Iran without pre-conditions about its nuclear program but needs to see the country behaving like “a normal nation”, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Saturday that Iran may be willing to hold talks if Washington showed it respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into talks.
Pompeo, in an apparent softening of his previous stance, said when asked about Rouhani’s remarks: “We are prepared to engage in a conversation with no pre-conditions, we are ready to sit down.”
However, he said Washington would continue to work to “reverse the malign activity” of Iran in the Middle East, citing Tehran’s support to Hezbollah and to the Syrian government.
Pompeo said U.S. President Donald Trump had been saying for a long time that he was willing to talk to Iran.
“We are certainly prepared to have that conversation when the Iranians can prove that they want to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis in the southern Swiss city of Bellinzona.
Trump said last Monday he was hopeful Iran would come to the negotiating table. But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Tehran would not negotiate with Washington, even after Rouhani had previously signaled talks might be possible if sanctions were lifted.
Cassis voiced concern at Iranian people suffering from the impact of sanctions and said that neutral Switzerland wanted to provide humanitarian aid, “especially pharmaceutical products and foodstuffs.”
He said Iran needed to make payments for this, and that was possible only if the United States allowed banks to transfer payments. Cassis said he was confident the United States would come up with the “best possible solution” to that problem in a short time.