GENEVA: Iran is willing to negotiate with America only when the United States lifts pressure and apologizes, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, according to state media.
Oil prices hit their highest level since November on Tuesday after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.
“We have always been a man of negotiation and diplomacy, the same way that we’ve been a man of war and defense. Negotiation is only possible if all the pressures are lifted, they apologize for their illegal actions and there is mutual respect,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called the US move a “hostile measure” that “won’t be left without a response.”
“US efforts to boycott the sale of Iran’s oil won’t get them anywhere. We will export our oil as much as we need and we intend,” his official English-language Twitter account said, quoting from a speech he delivered to workers in Tehran.
“They (the US) wishfully think they have blocked Iran oil sales, but our vigorous nation and vigilant officials, if they work hard, will open many blockades,” Khamenei said in the speech, partially aired on state TV.
“Enemies have repeatedly, in vain, taken action against our great nation (and our) revolution... but they must know Iranians won’t give in,” he added.
Khamenei, speaking in Tehran, also repeated his stance that Iran should move toward the sale of oil derivatives such as refined oil and petrochemical products instead of crude.
“I appreciate any decrease of dependency on this type of oil sales,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that the US must be prepared for consequences if it tries to stop Iran from selling oil and using the Strait of Hormuz, while also offering to negotiate prisoner swaps with Washington.