Iran Shoots Down Talks with US after Trump Signals Openness to Diplomacy

Will Iranian President Rouhani moderate Iran, or is he just for show? Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

One day after United States President Donald Trump openly discussed possible negotiations with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the Iranians firmly dismissed unconditional talks between the sides. Rouhani, in comments published by the Fars News Agency, said they were “ready for talks” but told the Americans that they had to remove sanctions as the “first step.” Said Rouhani, “The door cannot be unlocked without this step.”

Rouhani made it clear they were not interested in just a photo op with Trump, while Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif went a step further in a separate Fars report, saying that no meeting between Trump and Rouhani “could be imagined.”

Iran’s tough stance comes after Trump on Monday made his most conciliatory comments toward Iran since taking office. The US President told reporters it was realistic to envision talks with Rouhani within weeks. “I don’t know the gentleman. I think I know him a little bit just by watching over the last number of years what’s happened. I’ll tell you one thing: He’s a great negotiator. But he—I think he’s going to want to meet,” said Trump in comments published on the White House website.

“I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out. Now, is that based on fact or based on gut? That’s based on gut.”

Trump even openly expressed the possibility of giving Iran an international loan in compensation as part a renegotiated nuclear deal.

The US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 due to their concerns that the accord was inadequate. On Monday, Trump made it very clear what he would want to see in a new deal.

“We’re looking for no nuclear weapons, no ballistic missiles, and a longer period of time [for the restrictions under the deal]. Very simple,” said Trump. “We can have it done in a very short period of time.”

The US leader continued to give plenty of compliments to the Iranians in his comments on Tuesday. He also sought to ease concerns about the US goal in Iran.

“I think that Iran is a country of tremendous potential. We’re not looking for leadership change. We’re not looking for that kind of change. This country has been through that many times before. That doesn’t work.”

While the Americans were the ones who escalated sanctions after withdrawing from the JCPOA, Trump said he wasn’t enjoying the economic impact on Iran.

“The sanctions are absolutely hurting them horribly. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see that. They’re great people. I don’t want to see that. But we can’t let them have a nuclear weapon. Can’t let it happen,” said Trump. “So I think that there’s a really good chance that we would meet.”

Trump’s comments came after Israel foiled an Iranian “killer drone” plot intending to attack the northern region of the Jewish State from neighboring Syria that also involved the Hezbollah terror group. Following threats from Iranian leader and head of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah in the aftermath of the preemptive strike, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear on Tuesday his country would not be intimidated now.

“I heard Nasrallah’s remarks. I suggest that Nasrallah relax. He knows very well that the State of Israel knows how to defend itself and how to pay back its enemies,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

“I want to tell him and the Lebanese state, which is sheltering this organization that aspires to destroy us, and I also say this to [Iranian special forces leader] Qassem Soleimani: Be careful with your words and be even more careful with your actions.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, August 27, 2019)

What do you think?