Amid growing tensions between Tehran and Washington over the nuclear deal, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Thursday said he does not see US President Donald Trump as ‘worthy of any message exchange’. He was speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tehran when he made this remark.
“I do not see Trump worthy of any message exchange,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
He further added that he doesn’t ‘have any reply to him now or in future’ in his response to Abe, who was carrying Trump’s message to Iranian leaders on Thursday.
Khamenei’s statement comes at a time when tensions are high between the two countries ever since the US pulled itself out of the nuclear deal in which Iran had agreed to curb its nuclear programme in return of lifting of international financial sanctions.
Tensions have escalated since then, with the US doubling down with more economic sanctions and deploying an aircraft carrier to the Middle East in response to what it perceives as a possible threat from Iran. A defiant Tehran too responded by threatening to abandon some of the restrictions to its nuclear activities imposed by its landmark 2015 deal with major world powers.
The frosty ties between the two nations is a major cause of worry for other nations as well who deal with Iran economically, including India.
Stressing the need for a dialogue between Iran and the US, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano had expressed his reservations on the nuclear issue even as he called for de-escalation.
Japanese PM Abe is on a visit to Iran to ease out the tensions between the US and the Shia-majority Islamic Republic. Abe’s visit came after Trump welcomed his help in dealing with Iran during his visit to Japan last month. Japan extended help to the US for resolving the dispute in view of Tokyo’s ‘healthy’ relationship with Tehran, which dates back to over 70 years, mostly around oil.
Japan’s interest lies in resolving the issue between the two as the bulk of its oil comes from the Middle-east, although its import from Iran stopped after US sanctions.
Meanwhile, Abe told reporters in Tehran, “Today, I met Supreme Leader Khamenei and heard his belief in peace. I regard this highly as a major progress toward this region’s peace and stability,” after Khamenei made a statement that Iran has no intention of making or using nuclear weapons.
Shinzo Abe is the first-ever Japanese Prime Minister to visit Khamenei.
(With inputs from Reuters)