Unity among sanctions-hit countries only way to counter US unilateralism: Rouhani

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says unity among the countries that have been targeted by US sanctions is the only way to counter “unilateral and illegal” measures taken by Washington.

Rouhani made the remarks in a Sunday phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan where he announced Tehran’s support for Ankara in the face of US sanctions. “The only way to counteract the illegal and unilateral measures taken by the United States is unity and empathy among countries that have been sanctioned” by Washington, Rouhani said. Pointing to the unlawful measures by the administration of former US President Donald Trump, he added, “Lifting sanctions [imposed]by the US is a legal and rational demand by Iranو which we have repeatedly emphasized, and if it happens, Iran will return to its commitments [under a 2015 nuclear agreement].” As it has been constantly announced, Iran would employ an “action against action” policy in the face of the new US administration, Iran’s chief executive said. In 2015, Iran and six world states — namely the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany — signed a historic nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – which was ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. However, the US under Trump unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the deal. The Trump administration also launched what it called a maximum pressure campaign against Iran, targeting the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” restrictive measures. Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani stressed the importance of dialog and peaceful approaches to settle differences in Syria. He emphasized that senior officials of Iran, Turkey and Russia, the states that have been serving as the guarantors of an all-Syria ceasefire, should continue talks with the purpose of solving issues in Syria, preparing the ground for the return of refugees to their homeland and helping devise a new constitution. Since January 2017, Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara have been mediating peace negotiations between representatives of the Syrian government and opposition groups in a series of talks held in the Kazakh capital Astana (now named Nur-Sultan) and other places, including the Russian resort city of Sochi. The talks are collectively referred to as the Astana peace process. The first round of the Astana talks commenced a month after the three states joined efforts and brought about the countrywide ceasefire in Syria and assumed the role of the truce’s guarantors. In a statement issued on February 17 at the end of two-day talks in Sochi, Iran, Russia, and Turkey declared the importance of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and laid emphasis on the need to fight terrorism in the country until its complete eradication. The Turkish president, for his part, called for the expansion of mutual relations and holding sessions of joint commissions to boost trade cooperation between Turkey and the Islamic Republic. Erdogan said effective negotiations would play a leading role in promoting peace and security in the region. There is now a positive and appropriate atmosphere in the international arena, Erdogan added, for the settlement of issues and the removal of unjust US sanctions through diplomatic channels.

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