Iran’s Zarif sanctioned after declining Trump meet: officials

Tehran, Aug 4 (AFP/APP):Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was hit with US sanctions after turning down an invitation to meet President Donald Trump, officials in the Islamic republic said on Sunday.
The New Yorker magazine reported on Friday that Senator Rand Paul met Zarif in the US on July 15 and had Trump’s blessing when he extended an invitation to the Iranian minister to go to the White House.
Officials in Iran confirmed the report on Sunday, heaping scorn on the Trump administration for claiming to want dialogue with Iran while slapping sanctions on its top diplomat.
“For a government to constantly claim (to favour) negotiations and afterwards sanction the foreign minister… if this is not ridiculous, then what is it?” said foreign ministry spokesman Ali Rabiei.
“In a meeting with a senator, he (Zarif) is invited to come to a meeting and then he is sanctioned,” Rabiei said in remarks aired on state television.
“We believe that these sanctions show that the politicians of the White House have to some extent made a personal issue of affairs,” he said, describing such behaviour as “childish”.
On Wednesday the United States imposed sanctions against Zarif, effectively slamming the door on Iran’s top diplomat.
According to The New Yorker, Zarif said it was up to Tehran to decide on accepting a meeting with Trump.
Zarif told the magazine he would not want a White House meeting that yielded just a photo opportunity and a two page statement afterwards, it reported.

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