U.S. President Donald Trump says he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rohani with "no preconditions" to discuss ways of improving ties between the two countries.
"I’d meet with anybody. I believe in meetings," said Trump, speaking on July 30 at the White House during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Trump added that he believes in "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 meeting, Trump said, "No preconditions, no. If they want to meet, I’ll meet anytime they want," adding that it would be "good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world."
Iran’s leaders did not immediately reject Trump’s offer as they have previous suggestions from Trump that the two nations negotiate a new nuclear deal to replace Iran’s 2015 agreement with world powers, which Trump abandoned in May.
A senior adviser to Rohani, Hamid Aboutalebi, suggested early on July 31 that the way to reopen talks is for the United States to, among other things, return to the 2015 deal.
"Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities, and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America," Aboutalebi said in a tweet early on July 31.
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly suggested direct negotiations between Washington and Tehran even while exchanging threats with Iranian leaders.
"We’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster," Trump said last week.
No U.S. president has met with an Iranian leader since before the 1979 revolution that toppled the shah, a U.S. ally.
The White House insisted after Trump’s overture to Iran that the president is not abandoning U.S. demands for major changes in Iran.
"The United States is prepared to take actions to end sanctions, reestablish full diplomatic and commercial relations, permit Iran to have advanced technology, and support the reintegration of the Iranian economy into the international economic system," said Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
"However, this relief is only possible if there are tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in Tehran’s policies. Until then, the sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the CNBC television channel that "the president wants to meet with folks to solve problems."
"If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes to how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he is prepared to sit down and have a conversation with them," Pompeo said.
Trump in suggesting talks with Iran has maintained that it would help Iran cope with what he describes as the "pain" from deepening economic woes as the United States moves to reimpose economic sanctions against Iran.
The looming sanctions, some of which will go into effect within days, have helped trigger a steep fall in the Iranian rial, with the currency plummeting to a new record low of 122,000 to the dollar in black market trading on July 30.
The rapid decline in the value of the currency sparked street protests in Tehran last month.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and BBC
Source: Radio Free Europe