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Pompeo has never directly spoken to Iranian counterpart: report

With the Trump administration set to deploy U.S. troops to the Middle East amid heightened tensions with Tehran, a new report reveals that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has never talked with his Iranian counterpart.

Pompeo has never directly spoken with Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, Reuters reported on Friday, citing Iran's mission at the United Nations. The two men serve as their respective country's highest diplomat.

Zarif argued in an interview with Reuters that part of the reason the two men have never spoken is Pompeo's tendency to "insult" Zarif in public statements about Iran's government.

"Pompeo makes sure that every time he talks about Iran, he insults me," Zarif told the news service. "Why should I even answer his phone call?"

Zarif has had frequent contact with U.S. diplomats before, and previously worked closely with Secretary of State John Kerry during the Obama administration on issues that threatened at the time to drive a wedge between the two governments.

One top European diplomat expressed alarm when told about the lack of relationship between the two, arguing that such channels were necessary to avoid misunderstandings that lead to greater conflict.

"I hope that there are some channels still existing so we don't sleepwalk into a situation that nobody wants," the unnamed diplomat told Reuters. "The rhetoric that we have is alarming."

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told the outlet that "when the time to talk comes, we are confident we will have every means to do so."

The spokeswoman said the administration's "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran is aimed at forcing Iran's leaders to the negotiating table.

"If the Iranians are willing to engage on changing their ways to behave like a normal nation," Ortagus said, "we are willing to talk to them."

The Trump administration moved Friday to deploy 1,500 troops to the Middle East to support currently deployed troops amid tensions with Iran. President Trump has reportedly remained adamant to aides that he does not want to see the U.S. push for regime change in the country.

 

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