U.S. still pursuing 'maximum pressure' against Iran: Treasury's Mnuchin

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is still pursuing a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday, even after President Donald Trump parted ways with his hard-line national security adviser John Bolton.

Mnuchin, in an interview with CNBC, also said that currently there is no plan for Trump to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month, although he reiterated that Trump is open to meeting with Rouhani with no preconditions.

The Trump administration's remaining national security team is "executing on a maximum pressure strategy against Iran," Mnuchin said.

"There's no question it's working," Mnuchin added.

Sanctions against Iran have been effective and could help pressure Iran and its leaders to negotiate with Trump, Mnuchin added.

"We have cut off their money, and that's the reason why, if they do come back to the negotiation table, they're coming back," Mnuchin said, adding that the U.S. strategy toward Iran is similar to the one the Republican president is taking toward trade talks with China.

"If the president can get the right deal that he's talked about, we'll negotiate with Iran. If not, we'll continue the maximum pressure campaign," Mnuchin added.

Bolton, a leading foreign policy hawk and Trump's third national security adviser, was a chief architect of Trump's strident stance against Iran and instigated the maximum pressure campaign against aimed at bringing Tehran to the table to negotiate a new deal on curtailing its nuclear program.

Bolton left his post abruptly on Tuesday. Trump said he fired Bolton. But Bolton said he resigned.

Iran said on Wednesday that the United States should distance itself from "warmongers" after Bolton's departure, and Tehran stood by its demand that sanctions be lifted before any talks.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

09/12/2019 14:10

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