President Trump told reporters Monday he is willing to meet face to face with Iranian leaders “without preconditions” to settle the ongoing dispute over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Asked by Reuters’ reporter Roberta Rampton what Iran could do to reduce tensions in the region and with Washington and if he was willing to meet with Iranian leaders Trump replied:
“I’ll meet with anybody. I believe in meetings. . . . I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet; I don’t know if they’re ready yet.”
In a follow-up question, Rampton asked under what circumstances Trump would be willing to meet and inquired over any set preconditions, Trump expressed concerns with security, referred to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal as “ridiculous,” and said meeting was “the right thing to do.”
“No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want. Good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world. No preconditions; if they want to meet, I’ll meet,” Trump told reporters in a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Trump’s surprising remarks follow comments from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who warned Trump over Washington’s uncompromising policies toward Tehran and the weighing of further sanctions.
On Saturday, July 21, as reported by state new agency IRNA, Rouhani told Iranian diplomats Trump’s “playing with the lion’s tail would only lead to regret. Rouhani followed his remark, saying: “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
In a stiff reply, Trump tweeted a warning to Tehran never to threaten the U.S. again.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
Despite Trump’s assertions no specific terms were compulsory prior to meeting, the president’s remarks conflicted with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who, hours later, laid out several conditions Tehran must fulfill prior to meeting with U.S. officials.
“If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he’s prepared to sit down and have the conversation with them,” he said during an appearance on CNBC.
In a swift response declining the U.S. overture on Tuesday, Ali Motahari, the deputy speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, said:
“Today, negotiations with the U.S. bring humiliation. For now, it’s not appropriate to talk with the U.S.”
Relations between Tehran and Washington have been hostile since the 1979 Iranian Revolution which forced Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into exile and inspired the Iranian takeover of the U.S. embassy in November 1979.
A mild thaw in the frigid relationship occurred in 2015 when President Obama joined four other U.N. Security Council members and Germany to negotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which placed limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.
President Trump formally withdrew from the JCPOA in May. Shortly after the U.S. scrapped the deal, Sec. Pompeo announced 12 conditions Tehran must fulfill before any new agreement would be signed.
[Business Insider] [The Hill] [Wall Street Journal] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via The Express]