WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said that he would “certainly” with the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, and without preconditions, if Iranian leader were prepared.
Speaking Monday during a joint press conference with the prime minister of Italy, Trump said that he would meet with the Iranians “at any time they want.”
“I will meet with the others,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with the meeting.”
The overture comes as Trump and the Iranians are escalating their rhetoric after Trump’s withdrawal of the well-known nuclear agreement. The United States has also vowed to boost sanctions until Iran changes its regional policy, including the support of regional militant groups.
It is unclear if Rouhani has no interest in meeting with Asset. Rouhani’s chief of staff claimed earlier this month in Iran is state-owned newspaper that Rouhani had refused eight requests from the Asset for one-on-one talks last year.
Rouhani recently warned the U.S. that “war with Iran is the mother of all wars” questions for the all-caps retort of Trump.
“The Iranian President Rouhani,” he wrote on Twitter. “NEVER, EVER A THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES AGAIN, OR YOU WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE WANT OF THOSE FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT STANDS FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE AND DEATH.”
He ended the message with a warning: “BE CAREFUL!”
The iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fired back with his own message that started, “COLOR US not impressed.”
Trump hardened his menacing rhetoric two days later, when he said that his administration is ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.
“We are ready to become a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous government, that was a disaster,” he said.
Trump has long cast himself as a master negotiator, which is the most effective when he meets with his colleagues 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 a meeting,” he said, speaking of the benefits of “speaking with other people, especially when you talk about the possibilities of war and death and famine, and many other things.”
Asked whether he would be a prerequisite for the meetings, Trump was clear.
“No preconditions, no. If they want to meet, I will meet where they want, when they want,” he said. “Good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No terms and conditions. If they want to meet, and I will meet you.”
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo told CNBC on Monday that he was on board with the president’s invitation, says He “wants to meet with people to solve problems.”
But he appeared to add several qualifications: “If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to fundamental changes in the way they deal with their own people, reducing their unaccepted behavior, you can agree that it’s worth it to go through a nuclear agreement that effectively prevents the spread, the president said that he is prepared to sit down and have a conversation with him.”
Early reaction on Capitol Hill was mixed, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., which is often critical of Trump, told reporters: “I actually think that this is a good idea.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., characterized the overture as “very good,” but only “as long as they are willing to talk about the fact that a normal country in the future.”
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N. J., a frequent Trump critic, was more sceptical, calling it “another recipe for poor results.”
“It is the same as North Korea,” he said. “No conditions, no preparation. And what do we have? We have Kim Jong-Un was elevated from an international pariah to someone who appears to be a legitimate statesman.”
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Alan Fram contributed to this report.