Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia– Iran will not be meeting with the the administration of US President Donald Trump unless Washington DC stops its “economic terrorism” against the Iranian people, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday, during his latest diplomatic swing through Asia.
“The United States is engaged in economic war against the Iranian people. It won’t be possible for us to engage with US unless they stop imposing a war, engaging in economic terrorism,” Zarif told reporters after speaking at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in the Malaysian capital.
“If they want to come back to the room, there is a ticket, and that ticket is to observe the agreement,” said Zarif referring to the the 2015 nuclear deal signed by Iran and world powers.
Zarif said Iran does not want to “meet for the sake of meeting.”
“The basic principle of civilised world is that you do not negotiate with terrorists,” said Zarif.
“If they want to negotiate, they have to abandon terrorism.”
There were hopes on Monday that Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, could break four decades of political impasse, following a surprise diplomatic manoeuvre by French President Emmanuel Macron at the G-7 summit.
Macron had hoped that the two leaders could meet within weeks in New York, in hopes of saving the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump unilaterally abandoned in 2018.
Under the deal, Iran had agreed to significantly curb its enrichment of uranium. In exchange, Tehran will be allowed to openly sell its oil in the world market.
Since Trump abandoned the deal, US sanctions have been reimposed against Iran.
Macron had invited Zarif to the G-7 summit as a surprise guest, in an effort to facilitate the meeting of Trump and Rouhani.
Rouhani had hinted on Monday that he was willing to meet Trump. But on Monday, he said that the first step to that meeting is for the US to “retreat from sanctions”.
“Without taking this step, the deadlock will not be unlocked,” Rouhani was quoted by news reports as saying.
Iran’s top diplomat made no comments about his G-7 meetings with Macron during his Kuala Lumpur visit.
At the security forum on Thursday, Zarif also warned that the Islamic State of Iraq and the the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), remains a threat even though it has lost its territories.
“ISIS became a non-state actor with important role in international affairs and that is why it was important to defeat ISIS and that is why Iran participated actively …in Syria and Iraq,” Zarif said.
“We are happy that the territorial ISIS has been defeated, but the ISIS has not been defeated and we need to be very concerned and cognitive of this fact and continue to be united in the face of this threat,” said Zarif.
At least 65 Malaysians are detained in Syria for joining ISIL, and out of which 39 have expressed their wish to return home.
Malaysia has detained a total of 519 “terror suspects” as of July 31, according to official figures.
During his visit, Zarif also met with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and held talks with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
In a video Saifuddin posted on social media, it showed him welcoming Zarif and Marzieh Afkham, Iran’s first female ambassador since 1979, who also represents Tehran in Kuala Lumpur.
“Both countries pledged to continue to explore ways and means to enhance cooperation in all areas for mutual benefit.”
For his part, Zarif praised Mahathir saying, he has “deep respect” for the Malaysian prime minister “for the role he played in developing the Muslim world.”
According to a 2017 report, there are an estimated 4,000 Iranian students studying in Malaysia, and thousands more living here. Earlier reports said 60,000 Iranians were living in Malaysia.