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Iran diplomat's detention overshadows Rouhani's Swiss visit

05 July 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) and Swiss President Alain Berset shake hands during a joint press conference following various signing ceremonies in Bern on July 3, 2018. He and Kurz didn't take questions, and there were also no questions allowed at a news conference earlier Wednesday with the Iranian and Austrian presidents. However, when asked whether he meant to make a threat, Rouhani declined to provide a clarification.

The comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the unexpected announcement by the UAE's oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi came as USA benchmark crude traded around $75 a barrel.

Iran's president has called on the global community to defy Washington's stated intention of choking Iranian oil exports, describing the plan as a careless act of criminal aggression that doesn't care about consequences. "They don't understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region's oil is exported", Rouhani said late on Monday during a visit to Switzerland, the website (president.ir) reported.

He did not elaborate, but an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander explicitly said on Wednesday Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile USA action.

The European Union, once Iran's biggest oil importer, has vowed to keep the 2015 deal alive without the United States by trying to keep Iran's oil and investment flowing.

Details of his arrest emerged as Rouhani began a European tour seeking assurances about the Iranian nuclear deal, which has been thrown in to doubt after the unilateral withdrawal of the US.

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Hook said US officials are traveling around the world meeting with American allies to try to persuade them to cooperate with the sanctions. "But history will judge other nations based on what they do today", he said.

Washington has since told countries they must halt all imports of Iranian oil from November 4.

The commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qasem Soleimani, praised Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's statements on the threat of regional oil exports if sanctions were imposed on Iran's oil exports.

MP Assadollah Qarehkhani was quoted by media as saying that a special committee had been formed in the Parliament that would deal with bartering oil with goods, adding that this was meant to help Iran overcome the impacts of upcoming U.S. sanctions.

Hanegbi's remarks came before senior diplomats from Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation meet in Vienna on Friday, aiming to safeguard a pact reached in 2015.

The five other powers have all said they still support the deal despite the USA decision to withdraw.

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A number of foreign firms have already announced they would cease their Iranian activities in light of the looming imposition of sanctions.

Iran's foreign minister dismissed the attack plot as a "false flag ploy" created to overshadow Rouhani's tour.

Iran had struck the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) deal with the United States, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany after years of negotiations.

The Iranian leader travelled to Europe in an effort to secure support for its worldwide trade that would shield its economy in the aftermath of the USA decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement.

The EU's foreign service, the EEAS, was not immediately available for comment on the meeting.

Rouhani was in Vienna, where his country's nuclear agreement with world powers was drawn up three years ago, to promote the deal's survival after the withdrawal of the United States.

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Iran diplomat's detention overshadows Rouhani's Swiss visit