Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he has raised the idea of swapping prisoners with the US in response to the US’ call for engagement, but he is now disappointed with the State Department’s reaction to his call.
Speaking in a recent interview with Face the Nation program of CBS News, Zarif said the previous US administration was trying to engage in a prisoner exchange deal with Iran.
“The new administration initially showed interest. We made an offer in September that we are ready, and we are ready,” he added.
“We responded to the offer that they had actually made to engage and we are waiting for a reply,” he noted.
A few days ago, Zarif announced that Tehran was ready to negotiate the issue of prisoners with Washington, in a move that was widely described as a gesture of goodwill from the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian foreign minister said at the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday that he was putting an offer on the table to execute the exchange.
However, later on Saturday, Zarif suggested in an interview with IRNA that he is disappointed with the response he received from the State Department.
He said the response of the US State Department reveals the negative mind-set of the American side towards the Islamic Republic.
“The US should realize that it can’t speak to the Iranians with the same language it uses with certain regional states which heavily depend on Washington for their survival.”
He further noted that the American people should come to this realization that there is a group inside the White House who lead most of the dangerous policies of President Donald Trump.
“The Americans should know that most of their national interests are sacrificed in order to preserve the interests of Israel and an extremist group. This is not a new thing but nobody dares to declare it publicly,” he said.
According to Zarif, there is a group inside the White House who is leading Trump’s dangerous policies in the region.
He singled out Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, and John Bolton, the US National Security Advisor, as extremists who play a key role in pushing the whole region into a new war. Zarif also blamed certain regional states for fanning the flames of discord in the region.
The top diplomat then said the Iranian nation has managed to leave behind pressures over the past years and added this time the Iranians are standing against the foreign pressure with stronger unity.
“To this end, the government should send this clear message to all sides in the US to warn them about the repercussions of their decision during the upcoming elections,” he noted.
He then referred to the US illegal sanctions and said over the past few days, the American officials have explicitly declared that the sanctions are designed to directly target the Iranian people.
“Over the past 40 years, we have been under sanctions. The Iran nuclear deal showed that Iran never violates its international treaties and this is the American officials who don’t care about their obligations,” he noted.
Zarif underlined that Washington is not a reliable partner for any talks and added today the Islamic Republic of Iran has no way but to stand against the sanctions. “We have to decrease our reliance on oil revenues and put our focus on non-oil exports. Today, Iran has achieved good experiences to bypass the sanctions.”
In response to a question on Iran’s decision about the future of the Iran nuclear deal, he said Iran’s top decision makers are assessing the situation closely and will make the due decision in the due time.
Zarif also referred to the upcoming UN meeting on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and said the Islamic Republic of Iran views Israel’s non-membership in the NPT as the greatest threat against the regional and global security.
“During the UN meeting, we will raise the issue and underline the fact that all members of the NPT should be entitled to use peaceful nuclear program,” he said.
The Iranian diplomat then referred to the delays by the EU to implement its trade mechanism to keep trade ties with Iran despite the US sanctions and said the EU had one year to fulfill its promise but failed to do so.
“We expect them to remain committed to their pledges. They are now highly behind the schedule and there is no enough time,” he added.