Willing to talk to Iran without preconditions, says Trump

Anna Jefferson
August 2, 2018

Senior Iranian officials on Tuesday rejected US President Donald Trump's offer of talks without preconditions as worthless and "a humiliation" after he acted to re-impose sanctions on Tehran following his withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal.

Speaking during a news conference at the White House, the United States president said he would meet the Iranians "any time they want to".

"I would meet with anybody".

'There's nothing wrong with meeting'.

The White House clarified that Trump's potential willingness to meet with his Iranian counterpart does not change his administration's intent to ratchet up sanctions and rhetoric against Tehran with the stated goal of "seeking changes in the Iranian government's behavior". "Until then, the sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course".

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Trump said a future meeting with Iranian leaders would be useful "if we could work something out that is meaningful, not the waste of paper the other deal is", a reference to the agreement reached under his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015 with worldwide support. The Iranian leader's chief of staff claimed earlier this month in Iran's state-owned newspaper that he had rejected eight requests from the White House for one-on-one talks past year.

The tweet was in response to Rouhani's warning that if Washington launched any conflict with Iran it would find itself in "the mother of all wars".

Mr Trump tempered his threatening rhetoric two days later when he said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.

Rouhani said during a meeting with Britain's ambassador on Tuesday that after what he called the "illegal" U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, "the ball is in Europe's court now". He pointed to his recent one-on-ones with North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Russia's Vladimir Putin as examples of the benefits of such meetings.

"I believe in meeting... speaking to other people, especially when you're talking about potentials of war and death and starvation and lots of other things".

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Trump said he had "no preconditions" for a meeting with the Iranians, adding: "If they want to meet, I'll meet".

Even though Trump on Monday said if Rouhani were to meet with him there would be "no preconditions", he also did not walk back from any of those earlier demands.

Barely a week ago, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched a rhetorical assault on Iran's leaders, comparing them to a "mafia" and promising unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government. "If they want to meet, I'll meet".

"If this negotiation (is) carried out in any form, then it will be considered as surrender and the Iranian nation will not surrender", he said.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was more skeptical, calling it "another recipe for bad outcomes". Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., telling reporters: "I actually think that's a good idea". "No preconditions, no preparation. We have Kim Jong Un was elevated from an worldwide pariah to someone who seems like a legitimate statesman".

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