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Kuala Lumpur: The United States must observe a landmark nuclear deal and halt “economic terrorism” against Iran if it wants to hold talks, the Islamic republic’s foreign minister said Thursday. Tehran and Washington have been locked in a bitter standoff since last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic programme. Trump said Monday he was ready to meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani within weeks, in a potential breakthrough reached during a G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USBut Rouhani has said Washington must first lift sanctions imposed since its withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and Foreign Minister i9ijjjjMohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that message. “The United States is engaged in economic war against the Iranian people, and it won’t be possible for us to engage with the United States unless they stop imposing a war, engaging in economic terrorism against the Iranian people,” he told reporters during a visit to Malaysia, “We spoke to the United States, we spoke at length with the United States, we reached an agreement and they need to implement the agreement that we have reached before they expect to have more talks,” he added, referring to the nuclear deal. Iran was still talking to other world powers involved in the deal, he said. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”If (the US) wants to come back to the room there is a ticket that they need to purchase, and that ticket is to observe the agreement,” he added. Trump’s announcement this week came after Zarif travelled to France on Sunday for the second time in a matter of days, and held meetings on the sidelines of the G7 summit. US Defence Secretary Mark Esper also called Wednesday for Iran to enter discussions with the US to ease tensions in the Gulf region. “We are not seeking conflict with Iran. We want to engage with them diplomatically,” Esper said. In response to the US withdrawal and its imposition of crippling sanctions, Iran has hit back by abandoning commitments under the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, The EU’s diplomatic chief said Thursday that the bloc would support talks between the US and Tehran, but only if the current nuclear deal with Iran is preserved. Tehran and Washington have been locked in a bitter standoff since last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic programme. The idea of direct talks between Washington and Tehran as a way out of the crisis has grown this week after Trump mooted the idea and the new US defense secretary urged Iran’s leaders to engage. The EU has desperately sought to stop the deal from collapsing completely, arguing it is the best way to stop Iran developing nuclear bombs. EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini gave a cautious welcome to the idea of negotiations, after Trump said Monday he was ready to meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani within weeks. “We are always in favour of talks, the more people talk, the more people understand each other the better, on the basis of clarity and on the basis of respect,” Mogherini said as she arrived for a meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers in Helsinki. But she added “first and foremost what is existing needs to be preserved” — specifically the 2015 deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. “We will always advocate for the full respect by all sides of the UNSC resolutions and that includes the JCPOA,” she said. At the G7 summit in Biarritz, Trump showed openness to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal of a summit with Rouhani. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper followed up on Wednesday by urging Tehran to engage, but Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted Washington must respect the deal and halt what he called “economic terrorism” against his country.