Trump says he would meet Iran’s leader without preconditions

Virginia Carson
August 2, 2018

In an initial reaction to US President Donald Trump's suggestion that he is willing to meet Iranian leaders at any time and without preconditions, an official with the Islamic Republic on Tuesday outlined two prior requirements.

Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump's repudiation of the accord reached in 2015 was "illegal" and Iran would not easily yield to Washington's renewed campaign to strangle Iran's vital oil exports. He has vowed to ramp up sanctions until Iran radically changes its regional policies, including its support for regional militant groups, something the country's leaders have long refused to do.

On Monday, he declared that he would be willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions to discuss how to improve relations.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency quoted political adviser Hamid Aboutalebi as saying that for talks to happen, the US needs to rejoin the deal.

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"There can be no negotiations with the Americans raising the issue of talks from the position of power", he was quoted as saying on the website of the Iranian parliament, calling Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal the "biggest blow to diplomacy".

However, the other signers of the pact - Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany - are trying to salvage the nuclear deal, the future of which depends in large measure on guaranteeing the sale of Iranian crude.

Mr Trump has long cast himself as a master negotiator who is most effective when he meets his counterparts face-to-face.

"Given the hostile measures of the United States against Iran after its withdrawal from the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and the reinstatement of economic sanctions, there is no possibility for talks and Washington reveals its untrustworthy nature day by day", Ghasemi told reporters, according to the conservative-aligned Mehr news agency. Good for them. Good for us.

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A senior aide to Rouhani said the only way back to talks was for Washington to return to the nuclear agreement.

Trump condemned the deal in part because it did not cover Iran's ballistic missile program and involvement in Middle East conflicts.

Iran and the United States have been rivals for almost four decades following the Islamic revolution in the oil-rich nation. Washington's European allies maintain their support for the deal and have vowed to stay in it, though their businesses fear USA penalties.

However, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Monday, prior to Trump's statement, that talks with the current U.S. administration were impossible.

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Rouhani and some senior military commanders have said Iran could disrupt oil shipments from Gulf states through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington tries to choke off Iranian oil exports.

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