Ready For Serious Talks With Iran, US Tells UN

The United States offered to negotiate with Iran to de-escalate tensions between the two nations. The United States is "ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations with Iran, with the goal of preventing further endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said in a letter to the U.N. Security Council Wednesday. She also said that the United States will take necessary actions in the Middle East to protect U.S. personnel and interests. The top U.S. envoy described last week's drone attack that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force, as an act of self-defense. She cited Article 51 of the UN Charter to justify the killing of Soleimani. Tehran also did the same diplomatic move by sending a letter to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday. Article 51 requires UN member nations to immediately report to the Security Council any measures taken in exercising the right of self-defense. Iran, however, rejected the offer of talks. Iran's Ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi said it was "unbelievable" while the US continued to impose economic sanctions on Iran. He also stated that the Islamic country "does not seek escalation or war". President Donald Trump announced a fresh round of sanctions on Iran in an address to the nation on Wednesday. The new sanctions may hurt the already struggling Iranian economy, but appear far short of Trump's earlier threat to "hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!" Trump's decision seems to stem from the fact that it did not result in the loss of American or Iraqi lives, but minimal damages. The president also noted "Iran appears to be standing down" following the attack, which he said is a "good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world." Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had a phone call on with Trump on developments in the Middle East. Trump urged Stoltenberg that NATO should involve more in the Middle East. They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism. They also agreed to stay in close contact on the issue, said a NATO statement.