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Iran Leader: No US Talks on Any Level  09/17 06:18

   Iran's supreme leader announced on Tuesday that "there will be no talks with 
the U.S. at any level"  remarks apparently meant to end all speculation 
about a possible U.S.-Iran meeting between the two countries' presidents at the 
U.N. later this month.

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader announced on Tuesday that "there 
will be no talks with the U.S. at any level" --- remarks apparently meant to 
end all speculation about a possible U.S.-Iran meeting between the two 
countries' presidents at the U.N. later this month.

   Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying this is the 
position of the entire leadership of the country and that "all officials in the 
Islamic Republic unanimously believe" this.

   "There will be no talks with the U.S. at any level," he said.

   Khamenei said the U.S. wants to prove its "maximum pressure policy" against 
Iran is successful.

   "In return, we have to prove that the policy is not worth a penny for the 
Iranian nation," Khamenei said. "That's why all Iranian officials, from the 
president and the foreign minister to all others have announced that we do not 
negotiate (with the U.S.) either bilaterally or multilaterally."

   There had been reports about a possible meeting between President Donald 
Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, during the upcoming U.N. 
General Assembly this month in New York.

   But tensions roiling the Persian Gulf have escalated following a weekend 
attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. alleged Iran was 
responsible for --- a charge Iran denies.

   The crisis between Washington and Tehran stems from Trump's pullout last 
year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. He also 
re-imposed and escalated sanctions on Iran that sent the country's economy into 
freefall.

   The attack on Saudi Arabia, which set ablaze a crucial Saudi oil processing 
plant and a key oil field, was claimed by Yemen's Iranian-allied Houthi rebels, 
who are at war with a Saudi-led coalition that is trying to restore Yemen's 
internationally recognized government to power.

   Trump declared Monday it "looks" like Iran was behind the explosive attack 
on the Saudi oil facilities. But he stressed that military retaliation was not 
yet on the table in response to the strike against a key U.S. Mideast ally.

   Oil prices soared worldwide amid the damage in Saudi Arabia and fresh Middle 
East war concerns. But Trump put the brakes on any talk of quick military 
action --- earlier he had said the U.S. was "locked and loaded" --- and he said 
the oil impact would not be significant on the U.S., which is a net energy 
exporter.

   The Saudi government called the attack an "unprecedented act of aggression 
and sabotage" but stopped short of directly pinning blame on Iran.

   One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal 
deliberations, said the U.S. was considering dispatching additional military 
resources to the Gulf but that no decisions had been made. The U.S. already has 
the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group in the area, as well as 
fighter jets, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and air defenses.

   Trump, alternating between aggressive and nonviolent reactions, said the 
U.S. could respond "with an attack many, many times larger" but also "I'm not 
looking at options right now."

   American officials released satellite images of the damage at the heart of 
the kingdom's Abqaiq processing plant and a key oil field, and two U.S. 
officials said the attackers used multiple cruise missiles and drone aircraft.

   Private experts said the satellite images show the attackers had detailed 
knowledge of which tanks and machinery to hit within the sprawling Saudi oil 
processing facility at Abqaiq to cripple production. But "satellite imagery 
can't show you where the attack originated from," said Joe Bermudez, an expert 
at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who examined the images.

   The U.S. alleges the pattern of destruction suggested Saturday's attack did 
not come from neighboring Yemen, as claimed by the Houthis there. A Saudi 
military alleged "Iranian weapons" had been used.

   The Saudis invited the U.N. and other international experts to help 
investigate, suggesting there was no rush to retaliate.

   For his part, Khamenei on Tuesday also reiterated Iran's stance that if the 
U.S. returns to the nuclear deal, Tehran would consider negotiations.

   "Otherwise, no talks will happen ... with the Americans," he said. "Neither 
in New York nor anywhere" else.


(KR)

 
 
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