Pompeo: US will talk to Iran if it acts like a ‘normal nation’

Source: The Guardian

The US is prepared to engage with Iran about its nuclear program without pre-conditions but needs to see the country behaving like “a normal nation”, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani suggested on Saturday that Iran may be willing to hold talks if Washington shows it respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into talks.

In an apparent softening of his previous stance, Pompeo said when asked about Rouhani’s remarks: “We are prepared … to engage in conversations 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.

Pompeo said Donald Trump had been saying for a long time 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 said at a joint news conference with his Swiss counterpart 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 signalled talks might be possible if sanctions were lifted.

Last year, Pompeo outlined 12 ways Iran must change – including stopping its support for proxy groups and halting its missile program – before the US lifts sanctions.

He also called on Iran to stop uranium enrichment, never to pursue plutonium reprocessing and to close its heavy water reactor. He said it also had to declare all previous military dimensions of its nuclear program and to permanently and verifiably abandon such work.

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