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Pompeo: US Willing to Talk Unconditionally with Iran

The Latest: US would talk with Iran 'with no preconditions'

The two countries have been mired in escalating tensions ever since 2017 when the US pulled out of an global pact in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear capacity. "We are fully aware, both parties are fully aware, of this tension", he said.

Until now, Iranian officials have dismissed the idea of talks without first removing sanctions reimposed on Iran when the United States pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal a year ago.

In its latest quarterly report on Friday, the IAEA said Iran has stayed within key limitations spelled out in the agreement although its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water are growing.

He was reacting to comments made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday insisting that his country would not be "bullied" into talks with the United States, and that any dialogue between the two countries needed to be grounded in "respect".

Pompeo is in Switzerland for talks with Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

It's apparently the first visit by a United States top diplomat to the Swiss capital in more than two decades and comes just weeks after President Trump met the Swiss president Ueli Maurer at the White House in Washington.

Pompeo started a Europe tour on Thursday to seek support and a potential diplomatic climb-down to ease rising tensions between the USA and Iran. "We are ready to sit down with them", Pompeo said at a news conference in Switzerland.

Pompeo said U.S. President Donald Trump had been saying for a long time that he was willing to talk to Iran.

Despite the firm stance, Trump has signaled a willingness to talk with Iran's leadership.

However, he said Washington would continue to work to "reverse the malign activity" of Iran in the Middle East.

"We are certainly prepared to have that conversation when the Iranians can prove that they want to behave like a normal nation", Mr Pompeo said.

Pompeo himself past year laid out 12 draconian demands he said Iran would need to meet before reaching a "new deal" with the United States, essentially addressing every aspect of Iran's missile programme and what Washington calls its "malign influence" across the region.

Last month, the administration ended sanctions waivers that had allowed certain countries to continue to import Iranian oil, the country's main source of revenue.

Zarif added, "Talking is the continuation of the process of pressure. this may work in a real estate market".

Nonetheless, Pompeo's comments mark the first time the Trump administration has offered no-strings-attached talks since the recent escalation began in the wake of the USA withdrawal from a hard-won 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Despite the USA withdrawal, Iran has remained a party to the nuclear deal that involves the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the European Union. Iran last month said it would boost its enrichment of uranium beyond levels imposed by the global agreement if it could not within 60 days find a way to protect itself from the US sanctions.