Iran fires back at US as it REJECTS Pompeo’s offer to visit and tell people the ‘truth’

Donald Trump’s Secretary of State said on Friday he would travel to Iran to hold talks after the country’s Government test-fired a medium-range missile. Mr Pompeo also urged Britain, Japan and several other countries to join a maritime operation once led by Washington to protect international vessels travelling through the Strait of Hormuz. This is the stretch of water where the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker was seized by Iranian troops n July 19.

When asked if he was prepared to travel to Iran, Mr Pompeo said: “Sure. If that’s the call, I’d happily go there. I would welcome the chance to speak directly to the Iranian people.”

But Tehran has outright rejected the Secretary of State’s offer to visit, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warning: “You don’t need to come to Iran.”

He suggested Mr Pompeo should instead provide Iranian reporters with visa so they could travel to the US and interview him, accusing him of having rejected their requests.

The US and other global superpowers have grown furious by Iran’s increased perceived aggression and lack of progress over peace talks in recent weeks.

Are the facts of the (Khamenei) regime so bad he cannot let me do the same thing in Tehran? What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged

Mike Pompeo

On Monday, Mr Pompeo tweeted: “We aren’t afraid of (Zarif) coming to America where he enjoys the right to speak freely.

“Are the facts of the (Khamenei) regime so bad he cannot let me do the same thing in Tehran?”

“What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged?”

But Iran’s defence minister has insisted it is “normal” for the country to test missiles as part of its defence research.

Brigadier General Amir Hatami stopped short of explicitly confirming Washington’s accusation it had test-fired a medium-range missile.

Last week, a US defence official claimed Iran had launched what appeared to be a medium-range ballistic missile that travelled 1,000km.

When asked about the reported missile test, Brigadier Hatami was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying: “Such things are normal across the world.

“The research programmes of the armed forces are drawn up and carried out every year, including missile tests.”

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Last year, US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement that was signed in 2015.

The deal was aimed at preventing Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump wanted a wider accord that would limit both Iran’s nuclear activity and also curb its ballistic missile programme, reining in its support for proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

Iran has refused talks with Washington over its nuclear capabilities, particularly the missile programme that it says has only defence and deterrent purposes.

Tensions have been reaching boiling point over recent weeks after two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman last month – something the US has blamed Iran for.

The feud has been ramped up following the seizure of the Stena Impero oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz two weeks ago.

The US, UK and France are among a number of countries considering launching a military operation to curb what they perceive as Iranian over-aggression and protect their vessels in the Gulf waters.

But Germany has so far refused to contribute to any naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

Chancellor Angela Merkel thought to be deeply uncomfortable involving the US in any military mission because it was Mr Trump who pulled the country out of the 2015 agreement.

A spokeswoman for the German Government told a news conference on Wednesday: “The government is reticent about the concrete U.S. proposal and so has no made an offer.

“For us, it is important to pursue the avenue of diplomacy, and to seek talks with Iran to achieve a de-escalation.”

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