Iran’s top leader Khamenei rules out talks with US

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday ruled out talks with the US at any level or place, local reports say.

However, the US can join talks with Iran and other parties to the nuclear agreement if it regrets withdrawing from the 2015 deal last year, Khamenei said.

Khamenei’s remarks come amid reports that the US President, Donald Trump, is seeking to hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the annual UN conference in New York this month.

Iran considers the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy on it as worthless, Khamene said.

Ties between Iran and the US worsened after Trump walked away from the historic deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. Tensions mounted after Iran downed a US drone that crossed its airspace and Washington retaliated by shooting down an Iranian drone that flew close to its warship USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz.

Nearly three months back, Trump ordered an airstrike on key Iranian installations and dropped the plan at the last minute.

This week, Trump again said the US forces are “locked and loaded” after drones bombed two Saudi oil installations. While Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed they sent the drones, Trump believes the strikes with such surgical precision were carried out by Iran.

He is awaiting word on the culprit from Saudi and US investigators as they examine evidence collected from the bombed sites

Iran denied any role in the attacks, saying Washington seems to have shifted its policy from ‘maximum pressure’ to ‘maximum lies’.  

Iran’s external affairs ministry said the US is making false accusations to sully Tehran’s image and prepare the ground for airstrikes.

In the meantime, nations are concerned as the drone raids have led to 50% cut in Saudi Arabia’s oil production. This fall in output is expected to continue for weeks pushing up oil prices.

In a cabinet meeting, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdelaziz said on Tuesday that the kingdom is able to respond to attacks whatever their source are.