Iran hints open to possible tanker swap, nuclear talks

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President Hassan Rouhani hinted on Wednesday that Iran is open to a possible tanker swap with Britain and indirect talks with the United States over its nuclear programme and sanctions.

“We don’t want tensions with some European countries,” Rouhani said in comments to a cabinet meeting posted on the official website of his government.

In a clear reference to the British, Rouhani said if they were to “cease the incorrect acts that they have done, including that of Gibraltar, Iran’s response would be” appropriate to their actions.

Iran and the United Kingdom are in the midst of a tense standoff over British authorities’ seizure of an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar in early July and Iran’s detention of a UK-flagged ship in Gulf waters last week.

Rouhani also said Iran would be open to talks should there be a “ceasefire” in US economic sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Hostilities between Iran and the United States have risen since last year when President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at limiting Tehran’s nuclear programme and began reimposing sanctions.

“In this regard some countries are intermediaries, though they themselves say they are not mediators and are just expressing their own views,” said Rouhani.

“There has been correspondence from both sides on this issue and we are continuing this,” he added.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tehran in June for talks aimed at defusing tensions between Iran and the United States.

Earlier this month French President Emmanuel Macron sent his top diplomatic adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, to Iran “to piece together a deescalation” strategy.

Both Japan and France have denied acting as intermediaries between Iran and the United States.

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