Tillerson will talk to Iran’s foreign minister ‘at the right time’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed al-Jubeir hold a joint news conference Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo by Saudi Press Agency/EPA

May 20 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saturday he will talk to Iran’s leaders “at the right time.”

Tillerson’s comments in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, occurred after moderate President Hassan Rouhani won his second four-year term, easily defeating hard-line conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi.

“I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation,” Tillerson said of Iran’s leaders, who include Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although in all likelihood, we will talk at the right time.”

Tillerson appeared with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed al-Jubeir at a joint news conference after President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s adversary, to combat terrorism in the Gulf Coast region and counter Iran.

It was the first day of Trump’s initial trip outside the United States.

Tillerson said he wants Rouhani to “begin a process of dismantling Iran’s network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of the terrorist network, dismantling of the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region.”

“That’s what we hope this election will bring. I’m not going to comment on my expectation,” Tillerson said.

Al-Jubeir said Iran isn’t “a country that wants others to treat it with respect. If Iran wants to be a normal country, it has to act in accordance with international law.”

Tillerson said the primary purpose of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia was to curb any threats posed by Iran. The arms deal sends a “strong message to our common enemies,” he said.

Saudi Arabia opposed the nuclear accord in 2015 between former President Barack Obama and world powers with Tehran. Trump also opposed the pact, calling it during the presidential campaign one of the worst deals ever negotiated.


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