Iran says US talks ‘futile’, denounces black American’s death

Iranian parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf chairing a parliament session in the capital Tehran on Sunday. (AFP)
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Updated 01 June 2020

Iran says US talks ‘futile’, denounces black American’s death

  • Ghalibaf called for ties to be improved with neighbors and with “great powers who were friends with us in hard times and share significant strategic relations,” without naming them

TEHRAN: Iran’s new parliament speaker said on Sunday any negotiations with Washington would be “futile” as he denounced the death of a black American that has led to violent protests across the US.
Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ air force, was elected speaker on Thursday of a chamber dominated by ultra-conservatives following February elections.
The newly formed parliament “considers negotiations with and appeasement of America, as the axis of global arrogance, to be futile and harmful,” he said in his first major speech to the chamber.
Ghalibaf also vowed revenge for the US drone attack in January that killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Guards’ foreign operations arm.
“Our strategy in confronting the terrorist America is to finish the revenge for martyr Soleimani’s blood,” he told lawmakers, pledging “the total expulsion of America’s terrorist army from the region.”
Ghalibaf has also slammed the US over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis which has led to widespread protests across the country.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets from New York to Seattle demanding tougher, first-degree murder charges and more arrests over the death of Floyd, who stopped breathing after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have soared in the past year, with the sworn arch enemies twice appearing to come to the brink of a direct confrontation.
The tensions have been rising since 2018, when President Donald Trump withdrew the US from a landmark nuclear accord and began reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.
That was followed by the US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January that killed Soleimani, a hugely popular figure in the Islamic republic.

FASTFACT

Iran’s parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf vowed revenge for the US drone attack in January that killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Guards’ foreign operations arm.

Days later, Iran fired a barrage of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation, but Trump opted against taking any military action in response.
Ghalibaf called for ties to be improved with neighbors and with “great powers who were friends with us in hard times and share significant strategic relations,” without naming them.
The 58-year-old Ghalibaf is a three-time presidential candidate who lost out to the incumbent Hassan Rouhani at the last election in 2017.
The newly elected speaker had also served as Tehran mayor and the Islamic republic’s police chief before taking up his latest post.
In a tweet on Saturday, he slammed what he called the US’ “unjust political, judicial, and economic structure.”
This had been “pumping war, coups, poverty, indiscrimination, torture, fratricide and moral corruption to the world, and racism, hunger, humiliation, and ‘choking by knee’ in its own country for hundreds of years,” Ghalibaf said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif echoed his remarks on Twitter.
“Some don’t think #BlackLivesMatter. To those of us who do: It is long overdue for the entire world to wage war against racism. Time for a #WorldAgainstRacism,” he said. The post was accompanied by an image of a 2018 statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which the text was changed to be critical of the US States instead of Iran.
The altered text read: “The US government is squandering its citizens’ resources.
“The people of America are tired of the racism, corruption, injustice, and incompetence from their leaders. The world hears their voice.” Pompeo responded to Zarif by tweeting that “you hang homosexuals, stone women and exterminate Jews,” without elaborating further.


Pompeo offers help in call to Lebanon PM

Updated 1 min 34 sec ago

Pompeo offers help in call to Lebanon PM

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered assistance to Lebanon Wednesday after the massive explosion that leveled a huge section of Beirut and left at least 113 dead.
A day after the explosion in the Lebanese capital’s port, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper meanwhile played down President Donald Trump’s suggestion that it was a bomb, supporting instead Lebanese official accounts that it came from 2,750 tons of a volatile fertilizer ingredient, ammonium nitrate, stored in warehouse.
“I’m still getting information on what happened,” Esper told the Aspen Security Forum.
“Most believe that it was an accident as reported,” he said.
In a call with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Pompeo voiced “our steadfast commitment to assist the Lebanese people as they cope with the aftermath of this terrifying event,” a State Department statement said.
He “further stressed our solidarity with and support for the Lebanese people as they strive for the dignity, prosperity and security they deserve.”
The State Department only referred to a “horrible explosion,” despite Trump’s claim Tuesday that unnamed US generals indicated to him that “It was a bomb of some kind, yes.”
The Pentagon would not confirm Trump’s account.
Pompeo did not describe how the United States would help Lebanon, which was already in a deep economic crisis and seeking more than $20 billion in external funding.
The United States has been hesitant about supporting an aid package from the International Monetary Fund, insisting on reforms and the exclusion of Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia and political party.