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Iran to US: 'You have to pay more' for a new deal
[UNITED NATIONS] Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that if the United States wanted an agreement beyond the 2015 nuclear deal it has abandoned "you have to pay more" and appeared to reject talks with US President Donald Trump for now.
"Our response to talks under pressure is no," Mr Rouhani said in a prepared text of UN General Assembly speech obtained by Reuters as the United States raised the pressure by sanctioning Chinese firms for dealing in Iranian oil despite US sanctions.
The confrontation between Teheran and Washington has ratcheted up since last year, when Mr Trump withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled its economy.
In his UN speech on Tuesday, Mr Trump accused Iranian leaders of "bloodlust" and called on other nations to join in applying pressure on Iran after Sept 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities that Washington blames on Teheran despite its denials.
However, Mr Trump also said there was a path to peace and Mr Rouhani, the nuclear pact's architect, has left the door open to diplomacy, saying that if sanctions were lifted, Washington could join nuclear talks between Teheran and other powers.
Despite the French and British leaders urging Mr Rouhani to meet Mr Trump, an Iranian official told Reuters there was no chance that the US and Iranian presidents would meet while they are both in New York for this week's annual gathering of world leaders.
An Iranian official was categorical in playing down the idea of Mr Trump and Mr Rouhani meeting this week and called for the United States to return to the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
"The chances of a meeting are zero. They know what to do. They should return to the JCPOA, lift sanctions and end this unfair maximum pressure on Iran. Then of course they can join the talks under the deal," the Iranian official told Reuters.
Since abandoning the nuclear deal last year, Mr Trump in May dramatically tightened sanctions on Iran in an effort to reduce its oil exports - its main source of foreign exchange and government revenues - to zero.
While it originally respected the deal despite Mr Trump's withdrawal, Iran has gradually reduced its compliance and has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, through which an estimated one-fifth of the world's oil passes.