US, Iran envoys share rare private exchange at UN after nuclear deal meeting

US, Iran envoys share rare private exchange at UN after nuclear deal meeting
The US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft spoke with her Iranian counterpart after a Security Council meeting on Thursday.
3 min read
20 December, 2019
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft approached her Iranian counterpart [Getty]
The US Ambassador to the United Nations made a rare public gesture to her Iranian counterpart after a Security Council meeting on Thursday, offering condolences over the death of an Iranian toddler.

Kelly Craft approached Iran's UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi and shared a few words with him after a heated UN Security Council meeting on the 2015 nuclear deal, Reuters reported.

In Iran's statement on Thursday, Ravanchi shared a story of a toddler who had died in June from a rare disease. He blamed the child's death on US sanctions.

"It is a shame that the US bullying has resulted in discontinuation of export of certain medicines to Iran, causing nightmare for some patients," Iran's ambassador said in his statement.

"For instance, a European company, under the pressure of US sanctions, has stopped exporting special bandages for patients suffering from EB, a rare genetic condition resulting in easy blistering of the skin." 

Ravanchi told the Security Council that the two-year-old toddler Ava was unable to get the required treatment.

A US official at the UN told Reuters that Craft was expressing her condolences regarding the case when she spoke with Ravanchi after the meeting.

US sanctions imposed last year on Iran in a bitter dispute centred on the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme include an embargo on the oil sector, whose sales Washington aims to reduce to zero in a campaign of "maximum pressure".

Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn, with a plummeting currency sending inflation skyrocketing and driving up import prices.

In her speech to the UN Security Council, Craft said: "The United States is willing to engage in dialogue with Iran to negotiate a deal that will better serve international peace and security. But we will not sit idly by while Iran continues to destabilize the region."

'Ease tensions'

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Friday.

Rouhani's trip to Japan comes after deadly protests last month over petroleum price hikes in Iran.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei has played down the mediation aspect of the trip, saying the visit to Tokyo had "nothing to do with issues such as negotiations with America".

However, he acknowledged that "our Japanese friends usually convey messages or initiatives, which we welcome... and seriously examine".

Read more: Iran and Saudi Arabia held secret talks amid US tensions

As a key US ally that also maintains close diplomatic and economic ties with Iran, Abe has tried to build bridges between the two rival powers.

Last week, Abe said he would strive "as much as possible to ease tensions" in the Middle East, noting Japan's alliance with Washington and "favourable relations" with Tehran.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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