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Pentagon Chief: Iran 'Inching' Toward Place Where Talks Could Be Held

Pentagon Chief: Iran 'Inching' Toward Place Where Talks Could Be Held

Friday, 6 September, 2019 - 10:45
FILE PHOTO: Mark Esper talks to reporters at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Asharq Al-Awsat

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday it seems that Iran was inching toward a place where talks could be held.

“It seems in some ways that Iran is inching toward that place where we could have talks and hopefully it’ll play out that way,” Esper said.

Friction between the Tehran and Washington has grown since US President Donald Trump last year withdrew from a 2015 international accord under which Iran had agreed to narrow its atomic program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Washington has since renewed and intensified its sanctions, slashing Iran’s crude oil sales by more than 80%, Reuters reported.

At the same time US has rejected, but not ruled out, a French plan to give Tehran a $15 billion credit line.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, for his part, on Wednesday gave European powers two more months to try to save the multilateral pact.

The moves suggested Iran, the US and European powers may be leaving the door open for diplomacy to resolve a dispute over Iran’s nuclear work, which the West has suspected was aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.

However, Iran denies having sought a nuclear bomb.

Asked about the prospect, Trump told White House reporters anything was possible. “Sure, anything’s possible. They would like to be able to solve their problem,” he said, referring to inflation in Iran.

“We could solve it in 24 hours.”

According to Reuters, senior US defense official said Esper and his French counterpart will discuss on Saturday how France’s navy could coordinate with Washington to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

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