President Donald Trump said Monday that he would be willing to meet "anytime" with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without any preconditions, despite his previous reneging on an worldwide nuclear deal and tweeting threats in all-caps to Iran's leadership.
Speaking Monday during a joint news conference with Italy's premier, Trump said he'd meet with Iranian President Rouhani "anytime" if the Iranian leader were willing.
In May, the U.S. left a deal which curbed Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of global sanctions. "It was a ridiculous deal", Trump said.
But with the U.S. about to reimpose full sanctions, starting on August 6, many in Iran are uninterested in his latest volte-face.
Mr Trump said he had "no preconditions" for a meeting with the Iranians, adding: "If they want to meet, I'll meet". "We prefer diplomacy, they prefer to export their malignant behavior around the world, as we have seen them do for many, many decades".
It is unclear whether Mr Rouhani has any interest in meeting with Mr Trump.
The top USA diplomat had released 12 demands for talks with Iran in May, following Mr. Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal.
Trump withdrew from the landmark nuclear accord in May, saying it was too generous to Iran. "I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I'm ready to meet anytime they want to". "So many things have happened so positive", Mr Trump said.
"Iranian leadership has presented Trump as a bully and has presented the USA withdrawal from the nuclear deal as a betrayal of trust".
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Trump's move to force Iran into new negotiations has for now reunited Iranian hardliners who opposed the nuclear deal and pragmatists like Rouhani who championed it to Iran's economically crippling stand-off with Western powers.
With regard to Iran, Trump seems to pursue a similar good cop/bad cop approach. Iran had showed its openness to dialogue in the past, particularly with the phone call between Rouhani and Trump's predecessor Barack Obama in 2013.
The tougher US posture on Iran has fueled speculation that Trump is seeking to promote enough unrest to potentially unseat Iran's rulers.
"If they are honest in their words that they want to have negotiations with us without any preconditions, at least they should stay in the JCPOA (nuclear deal) or they should let us get the benefits of European trade", said Morteza Mehdian, a software engineer in his 20s.
Last week, tension between the United States and Iran escalated after Trump appeared to threaten military action against Iran in a tweet and Iranian officials vowed to resist any attempt to destabilise their country.
"Iran does not trust the U.S.as a negotiating partner".
The Strategic Council on Foreign Relations was set up by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to help formulate long-term policies for the Islamic Republic. "I, as a soldier, respond to you", Suleimani said in a speech reported by state-run media.
"Why would the Iranians negotiate with an administration that is internally inconsistent?" said Ali Vaez, the director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group.