U.S Says Door Remains Open for Diplomacy With Iran

WASHINGTON, June 5 (Reuters) – The door remains open for a wider negotiation with Iran about its nuclear program and other issues, but so far talks have been limited to prisoner releases, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said on Friday.

“(President Donald Trump) has had the door open to diplomacy for many years and in the same time frame, he has met (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un three times. So, we would like to see the (Iranian) regime meet our diplomacy with diplomacy,” he told reporters a day after Iran freed U.S. citizen Michael White.

Hook said U.S.-Iranian negotiations have so far not gone beyond discussing the mutual release of prisoners to such issues as Iran‘s nuclear program. He also said the number of U.S. citizens wrongly detained abroad who will be released will grow, but provided no details on when or where that might happen.

The U.S. official reiterated an appeal for Iran to release American citizens Baquer Namazi, his son Siamak Namazi and conservationist Morad Tahbaz. He specifically asked for the latter two to be furloughed from prison on medical grounds.

Hook also said Washington plans to stick to its policy of harsh economic sanctions on Tehran in an effort to bring it to the negotiating table on issues such as the nuclear program, saying “timidity and weakness invites more Iranian aggression.”

“We refuse to play by that rule book. When you play under house rules, the house always wins,” Hook said. “So we are going to continue with our policy.”

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)