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Trump says 'too soon' to talk with Iran amid tensions

Trump says 'too soon' to talk with Iran amid tensions
'They are not ready, and neither are we!' US president says of Iranian leadership

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - President Donald Trump said Thursday it is "too soon" for the U.S. to engage in nuclear talks with Iran just minutes before the country's top diplomat blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers near a critical waterway.

"While I very much appreciate P.M. Abe going to Iran to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal," Trump said on Twitter, referring to Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe. "They are not ready, and neither are we!"

Abe visited Iran in a bid to ease tensions between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic.

Following their meeting, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in remarks carried by Iranian state news agency FARS that he did not see Trump as deserving of a message from him.

"I do not consider Trump, as a person, deserving to exchange messages with. We will not negotiate with the United States," he said, according to FARS.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been at a fever pitch since Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. in May 2018 from an international pact aimed at reigning in Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.

The Trump administration has since gone on to attempt to scuttle the agreement, which all other signatories -- France, Russia, Germany, the UK, China, Iran and the EU -- remain a party to.

The attempts to undermine the deal have included the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran oil exports that were lifted as part of the agreement.

That decision in particular drew a strong condemnation from Iran amid a near-ceaseless diplomatic and economic effort the administration terms its "maximum pressure campaign" to bring Iran back to negotiations that would address its nuclear program and other regional activities the U.S. says are destabilizing.

Also on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being responsible for attacks on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, describing the attacks as part of "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran."

The top diplomat said the U.S. assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons that were used, the level of expertise needed to carry out the attacks, as well as other recent attacks on ships in the region the U.S. has blamed on Iran.

The strait is vital waterway with roughly one-third of the world's liquefied natural gas and a fifth of its oil consumption transiting through it each day.

source: News Feed
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