US-Iran crisis: Washington ready to engage with Tehran ‘without preconditions’, ambassador says

US-Iran crisis: Washington ready to engage with Tehran ‘without preconditions’, ambassador says

US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft. Photo: Reuters 

The United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, said on Thursday that Washington was now “ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran”. 

The statement came after US President Donald Trump showed restraint following Tehran’s missile attacks on two US bases in Iraq, deciding not to launch into yet another armed conflict in the Middle East.

In a letter to the UN’s Security Council, Craft said the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani last week was ‘self-defense’ and vowed to take additional action “as necessary” in the Middle East to protect US personnel and interests.

She added the US stood “ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran, with the goal of preventing further endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime.”

The killing of Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday was justified under Article 51 of the UN Charter, wrote Craft in the letter, seen by Reuters. She added that, “the United States is prepared to take additional actions in the region as necessary to continue to protect US personnel and interests.”

Read also: US has restored ‘level of deterrence’ on Iran, says Pentagon chief.

Craft added Soleimani’s death and US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on December 29 against an Iran-backed militia group were “in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in recent months by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-supported militias on US forces and interests in the Middle East.”

She said the aim was to deter Iran from conducting or supporting attacks and degrade its ability to conduct attacks.

Iran had retaliated on Wednesday for Soleimani’s death by firing missiles at military facilities housing US troops in Iraq. President Donald Trump said no Americans were hurt, soothing fears that Soleimani’s death and the Iranian response could spark a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Iran’s UN envoy dismisses any cooperation with Trump

Iran’s UN ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi dismissed President Trump’s call for cooperation as “unbelievable” and said Tehran “does not seek escalation or war” after exercising its right to self-defense by taking a “measured and proportionate military response targeting an American air base in Iraq.”

“The operation was precise and targeted military objectives, thus leaving no collateral damage to civilians and civilian assets in the area,” Ravanchi wrote in his letter to UN.

“Seriously warning about any further military adventurism against it, Iran declares that it is determined to continue to, vigorously and in accordance with applicable international law, defend its people, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity against any aggression,” he said.

With reporting by Reuters.