Willing to meet Iranian leadership anytime, without pre-condition: Trump
Washington: US President Donald Trump on Monday said he is willing to meet the Iranian leadership without any “pre-condition”, anytime they want to. The tension between Washington and Tehran increased a week ago after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asked the US not to “play with the lion’s tail”. Following which, Trump replied on Twitter, saying never, ever threaten the US again or you will suffer consequences which few throughout history have ever suffered before. “I think it’s an appropriate thing to do,” Trump told reporters at a White House joint news conference with the visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, while responding to a question if he was willing to meet the Iranian counterpart, now that he has met the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Trump said he has “no pre-condition” for holding talks with the Iranian leadership. “Any time they want” to meet, he said, he is ready. “I will certainly meet with Iran(ian leadership), if they want to,” the US President said. Early this year, Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal and has asked other countries to stop importing oil from Iran by November 4 or face the prospects of the US sanctions. India is among a major buyer of Iranian oil. Any talks between Iran and the US would have a direct impact on India. It’s unclear whether Rouhani has any interest in meeting with Trump. Rouhani’s chief of staff claimed earlier this month in Iran’s state-owned newspaper that Rouhani had rejected eight requests from Trump for one-on-one talks last year. Rouhani recently warned the US that “war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” prompting an all-caps retort from Trump. “To Iranian President Rouhani,” he wrote on Twitter. “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH.” He ended the message with a warning: “BE CAUTIOUS!” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fired back with his own message that began, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED.” Trump tempered his threatening rhetoric two days later when he said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table. “We’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,” he said. Trump has long cast himself as a master negotiator who is most effective when he meets with his counterparts 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.