Iran president makes case for talks as G7 gambit slammed

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani came out strongly in favor of talks between Iran and the US on Monday as his top diplomat came under fire from hardline media for a surprise visit to a G7 summit.

This comes after Rouhani made several comments that talks are “not suitable” and that resistance is the country's “only choice.”

“And if I knew that I was going to have a meeting with someone that would [lead to] prosperity for my country and people’s problems would be resolved, I would not hesitate.”

Zarif had said earlier this week that it was not possible to renegotiate the nuclear deal, according to ILNA.

“The main thing is our country’s national interests,” he said to a round of applause from those gathered at an event marking government achievements in rural areas.

Iran’s economy has suffered as a result of the country's continued violation of US sanctions under Rouhani. US President Donald Trump reimposed the sanctions after withdrawing in May 2018 from the nuclear deal. In response, Tehran has increased its nuclear activities in breach of the agreement, exceeding the limit of its enriched uranium stockpile as well as enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 percent purity limit.

Rouhani’s remarks came as his government faced criticism over the visit of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the French seaside resort of Biarritz on Sunday for meetings on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

Zarif was invited to Biarritz by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been leading efforts to de-escalate tensions between Iran and its arch-enemy the United States.

Iran’s economy has been battered by US sanctions imposed since last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic republic and world powers.

The ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper strongly criticized Zarif’s visit on Monday in an article that called the trip “improper.”

Kayhan said the fact that the minister’s visit was the second to France in a matter of days sent “a message of weakness and desperation.”

“These improper measures are taken in the fantasy of an opening but it will definitely have no other outcome other than more insolence and pressure,” it added.