DONALD Trump has said he would “certainly meet” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions.
Speaking Monday during a joint news conference with Italy’s premier, Trump said he would meet with the Iranians “anytime they want to”.
Trump withdrew from the landmark nuclear deal with Iran earlier this year.
His apparent overture to the Iranians came after last week he warned they would suffer “historic consequences” if it threatened the United States.
“I’ll meet with anybody. There’s nothing wrong with meeting,” he said.
Trump has long cast himself as a master negotiator who is most effective when he meets with his counterparts face-to-face.
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 get-togethers.
“I believe in meeting,” he said, talking up the benefits of “speaking to other people, especially when you’re talking about potentials of war and death and famine and lots of other things.”
Asked whether he would set any preconditions for the meetings he replied: “No preconditions, no.
“If they want to meet, I’ll meet anytime they want, 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.”
The United States has also vowed to boost sanctions until Iran changes its regional policies, including its support for regional militant groups.
The first of those sanctions are to go into effect Monday.
Trump tempered his threatening rhetoric two days after his initial threat when he said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.
The Iran nuclear deal
Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May
- Brokered by the Obama White House and signed by seven world powers, the Iran nuclear deal aimed to reduce the country’s ability to produce nuclear weapons
- The deal saw Iran agree to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium by 98 per cent
- US President claimed Iran has continued to develop its nuke programme branding the agreement “disastrous”
- He has particularly objected the accord’s sunset clause, which allows Iran to resume part of its nuclear programme after 2025.
Reacting to Trump’s latest comments Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency quoted political adviser Hamid Aboutalebi as saying that for talks to happen, the U.S. needs to rejoin the nuclear deal.
It’s also unclear whether Rouhani has any interest in meeting with Trump.
His chief of staff claimed earlier this month in Iran’s state-owned newspaper that Rouhani had rejected eight requests from Trump for one-on-one talks last year.
Rouhani recently warned the U.S. that “war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” prompting an all-caps retort from Trump.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC on Monday that he was onboard with the president’s invitation, saying Trump “wants to meet with folks to solve problems.”
But he added that the Iranians need to “demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people” before any deal could be struck.