President Donald Trump may have abandoned the Iran deal, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t opposed to meeting with Iranian officials.
“I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” said Trump on Monday while next to the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet. I’m ready to meet whenever they want to.”
Trump also said there wouldn’t have to be “preconditions,” although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did say in an interview following Trump’s statement that there would have to be some in place prior to meeting with Iran.
“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,” said Pompeo in an interview on CNBC.
Besides pulling the U.S. out of the Iran deal, Trump has criticised Iran for being the “biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world.” But he is still willing to meet.
“They want to meet, I’ll meet, whenever they want.”
Just a week ago, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Americans “must understand that war with Iran is the mother of all wars and peace with Iran is the mother of all peace,” according to the state news agency IRNA.
Trump promptly countered that the U.S. isn’t afraid to respond to threats.
“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!”
Iran did not officially reject Trump’s offer to set a meeting but instead focused on the U.S. and its recent withdrawal from the Iran deal.
“After the US’s illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the ball is in Europe’s court in the limited time remaining,” said Rouhani of the deal on Tuesday.
Some senior Iranian officials went as far as to say that the meeting would be worthless.
However, Rouhani is dealing with the backlash from lawmakers for Iran’s recent economic struggles.
Parliament has summoned Rouhani to appear before the chamber to answer questions.
“Rouhani, a pragmatist who reduced tensions with the West by striking the nuclear deal in 2015, is facing a growing backlash since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out from the pact in May and said he will reimpose sanctions that seek to throttle Iran’s economy, including its lifeblood oil exports,” writes Business Insider. “According to ISNA, lawmakers also want to Rouhani to explain why, after more than two years of signing a nuclear deal that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting of most international sanctions, Iranian banks still only have limited access to global financial services.”
Author’s note: Trump has made it clear that he is not afraid to engage. How else are we going to improve relations with Iran? You can’t win the game unless you’re in the game.