Iran's foreign minister invited to White House, Tehran decided against visit: report

FOX News

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reportedly received an invitation to speak with President Trump at the White House last month, but Tehran decided against such meeting. Zarif was targeted by the Trump administration this week, imposing punitive financial sanctions on him in an effort to further pressure Iran to end its activities in the Persian Gulf region. The move to penalize Zarif follows Trump's earlier executive order placing sanctions on Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But just last month, the Trump administration was seeking to have a meeting with Zarif, an architect of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal who's perceived as a more moderate figure in the Islamic Republic, the New Yorker reported Friday. The invitation was made by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, reportedly with Trump's blessing, during a meeting with the top Iranian diplomat in New York on July 15.


U.K. joins U.S. in Gulf escort mission after Iran taunts, ship seizures

The Japan Times

LONDON – Britain said Monday it will join forces with the United States to protect merchant vessels in the Gulf amid heightened tensions with Iran, after Tehran taunted Washington that its allies were too "ashamed" to join the mission. Britain's decision to form the joint maritime task force with the United States marks a departure in policy under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after efforts under his predecessor, Theresa May, to form a European-led grouping. It follows a spate of incidents -- including the seizure of ships -- between Iran and Western powers, in particular Britain and the U.S., centered on the vital Strait of Hormuz thoroughfare. "The U.K. is determined to ensure her shipping is protected from unlawful threats, and for that reason we have today joined the new maritime security mission in the Gulf," Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement. The announcement from Britain's defense ministry did not detail which, if any, other countries would be joining the new naval coalition.


Iran slams U.S. for 'causing tensions' after Trump nuclear weapons comment

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran hit out at the United States on Monday for "causing tensions" after President Donald Trump said his government was not seeking regime change and that he would welcome talks with Tehran. The Trump administration was "hurting the Iranian people and causing tension in the region," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his Twitter account. "Actions -- not words -- will show whether or not that's @realDonaldTrump's intent," Zarif added, referencing the U.S. president's Twitter handle. Zarif also denied Iran was seeking nuclear weapons, after Trump said during a visit to Japan that "we're not looking for regime change (in Iran) … we're looking for no nuclear weapons. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "long ago said we're not seeking nuclear weapons -- by issuing a fatwa (edict) banning them," the foreign minister tweeted.


Iran foreign minister says country 'had no choice' but to build missiles for defense

FOX News

Javad Zarif indicates that Iran will continue to manufacture missiles for defense purposes; Trey Yingst reports from Jerusalem. Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that his country must manufacture missiles for defensive purposes, days after he appeared to suggest the weapons could be up for negotiations. In a tweet Wednesday, Javad Zarif said that Iran's missile program grew out of the 1980-1988 war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. "For 8 YEARS, Saddam showered our cities with missiles & bombs provided by East & West," Zarif wrote. "Meanwhile, NO ONE sold Iran any means of defense.


Trump administration sanctions Iranian diplomat; Feinstein derides 'mistake'

FOX News

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joins Bret Baier on'Special Report' to discuss Trump administration's response to global hot spots. The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would impose sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a move that comes amid escalating tensions between Tehran and the West and could further erode an already fraught relationship. A Treasury Department statement said Zarif was being sanctioned because he "implements the reckless agenda of Iran's supreme leader and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world." Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the move a "mistake." She added: "I've known Foreign Minister Zarif for more than 15 years. While we've had our differences of opinion, he's always been a capable diplomat. President Trump says he pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement to force Iran back to the negotiating table, but this move limits the opportunity to do exactly that. "The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. "At the same time the Iranian regime denies Iranian citizens' access to social media, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spreads the regime's propaganda and disinformation around the world through these mediums." In this Nov. 9, 2013, photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, leaves following a meeting with E.U. foreign ministers in Geneva. Zarif responded to the sanctions via Twitter. "The US' reason for designating me is that I am Iran's "primary spokesperson around the world"/Is the truth really that painful?/It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran.