President Donald Trump on Friday confirmed that US and Iranian officials discussed a possible meeting or call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at last week’s UN General Assembly, but he insists he was the one who called off the plans. Trump tells reporters Friday that “our sides talked” but says Iran wanted sanctions relief as a condition for the meeting.
He says, “I said you must be kidding.” Trump added, “Rouhani wanted a meeting at the UN.”
Trump was responding to reports that it was the Iranian side that balked at the presidential conversation while at the UN.
In New York last week, Rouhani urged the United States to cease its “policy of maximum pressure” on his nation, saying it was driving the possibility of negotiations even further away.
Earlier, Rouhani blamed his US President Donald Trump for the failure of French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to initiate a historic phone call between them last week at the United Nations. The Islamic republic is prepared “to hold fruitful negotiations”, he told the Iranian cabinet, referring to two days of diplomatic efforts by Macron.
“From my point of view, the path (to dialogue) remains clear,”, he said in a speech carried on state television, thanking the French leader.
France’s efforts at the UN General Assembly in New York “could have been acceptable, in a certain way”, he said. “If anyone tried to prevent (contact taking place), it was the White House and nobody else”.
Last year, the relations between Washington and Tehran soared after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear accord with Iran, negotiated under former president Barack Obama.
The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran’s defence ministry.
Earlier, Trump while addressing the UNGA had already ruled out any possibility of easing economic pressure on Iran. Tensions between Iran and US ratcheted up after the Trump administration announced that it would unilaterally force all countries to stop buying Iran’s oil, which is its major export.