Friday, 20 Sep 2019 - 20 of Elul, 5779
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A Trump-Rouhani meeting in the making ?

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In Israel, top ministers were quoted as saying Israel is deeply worried by Trump’s declared readiness in principle to meet with Rouhani.The fear is that the US president will open a dialogue with Iran similar to the ongoing one he has with North Korea, taking pressure off Tehran.

 

PARIS/WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM—U.S. President Donald Trump said that there is a “good chance” the United States and Iran could meet at the negotiating table.

Standing alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at a joint press conference at the G7 summit meeting in Biarritz, Trump said that it is “realistic” that such talks could happen in a few weeks as the sanctions on the regime have affected the Islamic Republic “horribly.”

There is a “really good chance we will meet,” he added.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have intensified since the latter withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions lifted under it alongside enacting new financial penalties against the regime.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was invited by President Macron on the sidelines of the G7 meeting.

Trump told reporters he had “no comment” on Zarif’s unexpected visit. He said Macron told him in advance that Zarif would come.

Zarif did not meet with Trump or any U.S. officials.

“I thought it was too soon to meet,” said Trump. “I said I don’t want to meet right now.”

As to what happens next, Trump said “We’ll see what happens. It’s all very new,” adding that the United States is not seeking regime change in Iran.

“We’re looking to make Iran rich again,” he said. “Let them do well, if they want. Or they can be poor as can be. … I don’t think it’s acceptable the way they’re being forced to live.”

President Macron, who hosted the G-7 summit, told press that Rouhani told him he would be open to meeting Trump. Macron said he hoped a summit between the two could happen in coming weeks. Trump and Rouhani head to the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Anything agreed at a Trump-Rouhani encounter would be subject to approval by Iran’s top decision-maker, the fiercely anti-American Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

On Tuesday, Rouhani said Iran will not talk to the United States until all sanctions imposed on Tehran are lifted.

The Iranian president said Iran was always ready to hold talks. “But first the US should act by lifting all illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions imposed on Iran,” he said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

In Israel, top ministers were quoted as saying Israel is deeply worried by Trump’s declared readinessin principle to meet with Rouhani.The fear is that the US president will open a dialogue with Iran similar to the ongoing one he has with North Korea, taking pressure off Tehran.

To say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is uncomfortable with the US president’s newly open-minded stance on Iran “is the understatement of the millennium,” Israel’s Channel 13 reported, quoting what it said were three senior cabinet ministers expressing profound concern that just as Trump has “gotten nowhere” with North Korea, while relieving the economic pressure on Pyongyang, the same would now happen with Iran.

“We have no interest in a negotiations between the United States and Iran,” the TV report quoted one minister saying, “but our capacity to influence and confront Trump is extremely limited.”

Netanyahu has been a strident opponent of the P5+1 countries’ 2015 deal with Iran on its rogue nuclear program, arguing that Tehran is intent on attaining a nuclear weapons arsenal, has lied to the world about its plans, and that the 2015 accord actually paves the way to an Iranian bomb.

While Preident Trump has floated the idea of a summit, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said there would be no sanctions removal without Iran fulfilling a 12-point plan that would essentially mean Iran quickly transforming itself into a peaceful, Western democracy, or at least regime change.

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