Iran will not yield to the United States’ “bullying,” President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday as he met with Switzerland's Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in Tehran.
“History has shown that the Iranian people will not give in to the arrogance, bullying and coercion of a power,” Rouhani told Cassis who paid a three-day visit to Iran, celebrating a century of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Bern.
Rouhani said the US has imposed “cruel and unfair” sanctions on Iran over the past two and a half years in an effort to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since 2018, after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from an international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program and reinstated tough sanctions on Iran.
Rouhani said the US has been seeking to topple the Islamic Republic and interfere in Iran's internal affairs for years.
He said Trump “miscalculated” he would to be able to bring down Iran’s establishment “within three months” by “waging an economic war”.
The Iranian president said “the way is open” for the US to “make up for its illegal actions” and return to the Iran nuclear deal and a UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 accord.
Rouhani further noted that Iran expects “friendly and free nations” not to remain silent about “US terrorist operations” including the assassination of Iran’s top General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Iraq earlier this year.
Respecting international law
The Swiss foreign minister referred to the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and described the bilateral ties as “very good and sincere”.
Cassis underlined the need for respecting international law, especially by world powers, in order to maintain global security.
He said Switzerland is aware of the trouble caused by the US sanctions for the Iranian nation and noted that a financial channel launched by Bern is aimed at easing those troubles.
“We will try to increase the useful role of the channel,” the top diplomat said.
Known by its acronym SHTA, the Swiss channel is a payment mechanism aimed to enable food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to be sent to Iran without dealing with US sanctions.
Humanitarian goods are theoretically exempt from sanctions, but international purchases of such supplies are almost impossible since banks are wary of falling foul of the US over doing business with Iran.
The channel was established and conducted its first transaction earlier this year.
‘Excellent, fruitful' talks
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks with Cassis, as part of the Swiss diplomat’s three-day visit to Tehran, celebrating a century of diplomatic relations between Iran and Switzerland.
Apart from marking the longevity of the bilateral ties, the visit has also featured discussion over regional and international matters as well as expansion of mutual relations.
Zarif called the talks "excellent" on Twitter and said "while appreciating Swiss efforts to mitigate US sabotage, a return to normal trade is global priority."
He said Iran’s ties with Switzerland “endure based on mutual respect”.
Cassis said talks with Zarif were "fruitful" and that they revolved around “peace, economic development and human rights".
"Peace, economic development and human rights – fruitful discussion with my counterpart," Cassis wrote on Twitter following the talks.
"I'm glad we could establish together the Swiss Humanitarian Channel for the transfer of food and medical supplies to the people of Iran," Cassis said.
The Swiss Embassy in Tehran handles US interests in Iran, since ties were cut in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Switzerland has also played a major role in prisoner swaps between Tehran and Washington.
According to the US Department of State, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a phone call with Cassis before his Tehran visit, raising speculation the visit involved talks on Tehran-Washington relations.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh denied the "speculations" on Monday, saying it was a planned visit delayed over the novel coronavirus outbreak and "not related to Iran and the US".
On Sunday, the Swiss official met with Iran's Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
The senior legislator underlined the Iranian people’s pessimistic view of the United States caused by Washington’s unilateral, oppressive, and illegal sanctions against Tehran.
AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.