US National Security Advisor John Bolton says the United States is still looking forward to talks with Iran, even after President Donald Trump authorized sanctions against senior Iranian officials.
On Monday, the White House introduced new sanctions that targeted Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top Iranian military commanders. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was also going to be targeted by new sanctions, according to some reports.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the latest sanctions amounted to a “permanent closure of the path to diplomacy” with the Trump administration.
Bolton said during a visit to the Jerusalem al-Quds on Tuesday that the US remained open to negotiations.
“All that Iran needs to do is to walk through that open door,” he said.
He claimed that Trump had more than once expressed readiness for direct negotiations but Iran had yet to respond.
“The president has held the door open to real negotiations,” Bolton said in a statement on Tuesday. “In response, Iran’s silence has been deafening.”
Despite Bolton’s claims, Iran has time and again made it clear that it would not sit down for talks with Washington as long as it continues its current hostile policies against the Islamic Republic.
Tensions have been running high between the two countries since Trump’s decision in May last year to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence as well.
The US has also sent warships, bombers and additional troops to the region in the wake of suspicious tanker attacks in the Sea of Oman, which it has blamed on Iran without providing evidence.
Iran, however, has remained steadfast on its position. The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps shot down a US spy drone last week, prompting Trump to consider and quickly back out of retaliatory strikes.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani doubled down on Iran’s stance on Tuesday, saying Washington’s move in introducing more sanctions proved it was “lying” about talks.
“You (Americans) call for negotiations. If you are telling the truth, why are you simultaneously seeking to sanction our foreign minister, too? Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting.