Iran says still ready for talks if USA lifts sanctions

Iran says still ready for talks if USA lifts sanctions

Iran says still ready for talks if USA lifts sanctions

Iran acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that its security forces shot and killed protesters across the country to put down demonstrations last month over the sharply increasing price of gasoline, the deadliest unrest to hit the country since the turmoil of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday agreed with the Supreme National Council's proposal to consider ordinary citizens, accidentally killed in the protests as "martyrs" if they had no role in the "riots" and were only caught in the crossfire.

On Monday night, Iran's state-run IRTV2 channel broadcast a report confirming that there were fatalities during the unrest, but did not give any figures.

Amnesty International said it verified extensive footage that showed security forces shooting at unarmed protesters.

She said security personnel had also been visiting hospitals, looking for patients with gunshot wounds or other injuries from the unrest and immediately detained those with suspicious wounds.

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Iranian officials have disputed Amnesty's figures but have offered no definitive accounts of how many people have been arrested, injured or killed in the protests following the theocratic government's announcement that it would raise gas prices by 50 percent to fund handouts for the country's poor. The 2009 Green Movement protests that followed a disputed presidential election drew millions to the streets but saw far less killing. That's the equivalent of 12 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. After a monthly 60-liter quota, it costs 30,000 rials a litre.

Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, home to the world's fourth-largest crude oil reserves despite decades of economic woes. That's almost 24 cents a litre or 90 cents a gallon. That disparity, especially given its oil wealth, fueled the anger felt by demonstrators. Iran, meanwhile, began to break the deal's centrifuges, enrichment and stockpile limitations with hopes of pressuring Europe to offer it a way to sell crude oil overseas despite Washington's sanctions. The cost of daily staples also has risen, making the removal of any government subsidy making life affordable for Iran's people wildly unpopular. The question was asked, 'Do we support them?' I thought financially, and we haven't supported them [financially].

"A question was asked just a little while ago about supporting the people in Iran and are going through a very tough period and we do support them totally and have supported them from the beginning".

Citing a senior diplomatic source, Kyodo said Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs Abbas Araqchi had relayed the proposal to Japan during a two-day visit to Tokyo as a special envoy of Rouhani.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has forged warm relations with Trump, travelled to Iran in June to persuade Iran and the United States to resume direct talks and dial down tension.

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