Updated on 12/01/2020 at 10:24
Washington (AFP). US President Donald Trump again asked Iran not to kill protesters unhappy about the demolition of a civilian aircraft in the Islamic Republic, while his defense secretary left the door open for talks with Tehran without preconditions.
Trump's warning comes at a time when the Iranian regime faces protesters' anger in the streets and in a context of high tension between Washington and Tehran.RELATED
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"To the leaders of Iran: DON'T KILL THEIR MANIFESTANTS," Trump tweeted, warning that the world and "most importantly, the United States, is watching."
To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2020
Iranian police dispersed student demonstrations in the capital on Saturday in memory of the 176 people who died on Wednesday when the army destroyed "by mistake" a commercial aircraft of a Ukrainian airline.
"Thousands of people have already been killed or detained by you," Trump complained, referring to the demonstrations that began in mid-November in Iran and leave more than 300 dead, according to Amnesty International.
The bilateral context is especially tense after the death of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US attack on January 3 in Iraq.
On Wednesday, Iranian forces launched missiles on bases with US soldiers in Iraq, leaving no victims.
Despite the tensions, in an interview with the CBS network broadcast just before the president's tweet was published, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that Trump is still willing to talk with Iranian leaders.
"We are willing to sit down and discuss without preconditions a new way, a series of measures that will make Iran a more normal country," said the Pentagon chief.