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Pompeo criticises former US Secretary of State Kerry on Iran talks

2018-09-16 19:53
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticised his Obama-era predecessor John Kerry for "actively undermining" US policy on Iran by meeting several times recently with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was his main interlocutor in the Iran deal negotiations. In unusually blunt and caustic language, Pompeo said Kerry's meetings with Zarif were "unseemly and unprecedented" and "beyond inappropriate". US President Donald Trump had late Thursday accused Kerry of holding "illegal meetings wiith the very hostile Iranian regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people". Pompeo said he would leave "legal determinations to others" but slammed Kerry as a former Secretary of State for engaging with "the world's largest state sponsor of terror" and telling Iran to "wait out this administration". He noted that just this week Iranian-backed militias had fired rockets at US diplomatic compounds in Iraq. He also took former Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz and ex-Iran deal negotiator Wendy Sherman to task for joining Kerry at a meeting with Zarif and other Iranian officials earlier this year at a security conference in Munich. Along with Kerry, Moniz and Sherman played key roles in negotiating the 2015 agreement between Iran and several world powers that lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear programme. Such meetings, between a private US citizen and a foreign official, are not against the law and not necessarily inappropriate or a violation of federal regulations, but Trump, Pompeo and several Republican lawmakers say they are evidence that Kerry and former Obama administration officials are trying to subvert Trump's hard line on Iran.