Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer of an unconditional meeting. “Certainly, the decisions of the new U.S. administration are fleeting,” he sneered, implying that Trump was not serious about offering to meet with him.
President Trump emerged from a White House meeting with Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte to announce that he was willing to meet with Rouhani with “no preconditions.”
“I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know if they’re ready to meet yet,” Trump ventured.
A week earlier, Trump warned the Iranian president to stop threatening reprisals against the United States for withdrawing from the nuclear deal negotiated by the previous U.S. administration. Trump’s all-caps Twitter message to Rouhani memorably ended with, “WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
Rouhani rejected Trump’s offer of dialogue on Tuesday after meeting with South Korea’s new ambassador to Iran.
“We should not allow political events and the illegal sanctions to harm the historical relations between the two countries,” Rouhani told the South Korean ambassador, referring to renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran.
“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,” Rouhani adviser Hamid Aboutalebi added on Twitter.
“Based on our bad experiences in negotiations with America and based on the U.S. officials’ violation of their commitments, it is natural that we see no value in Trump’s proposal,” declared Kamal Kharazi, head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.
The deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Motahari, said it would be a “humiliation” if Rouhani agreed to meet with Trump after the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and imposed new sanctions on Iran.
Rouhani also met with the new British ambassador to Iran on Tuesday and took the opportunity to repeat his thinly-veiled threats to interfere with shipping in the Strait of Hormuz if U.S. sanctions are not lifted.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran never seeks tensions in the region and does not want any trouble to emerge in international waterways, but will never easily relinquish its right to export oil either,” said the Iranian president.
Rouhani said it was up to Europe to salvage the nuclear deal, formally known as the JCPOA.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is always ready for enhanced interaction and good ties with European countries, and now, after the US’s illegal exit from the JCPOA, the ball is in Europe’s court in the limited remaining time,” he said.
By this Rouhani meant Europe is expected to make lavish new concessions to keep Iran on board. The British ambassador tactfully pointed out that the Europeans have been doing everything they can to keep the JCPOA alive, but Iran is not yet satisfied with the inducements offered by France, Germany, and the U.K.