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Israeli official: No change in US policy towards Iran
Despite Trump offering to meet with Iranian President Rouhani 'anytime' and without preconditions, senior Israeli official says US administration officials assured Jerusalem there is 'no change to the firm stance against Iran.'
Despite US President Donald Trump's declarations that he was willing to hold talks with Iran without preconditions, a senior Israeli official insisted Tuesday evening there has been no change in Washington's policy towards Tehran.

 

 

"Israel maintains constant communications with the American administration. Senior American officials told Israel there is no change to the firm stance against Iran," the official said.

 

Trump on Monday said he'd meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani "anytime" without preconditions to discuss how to improve ties after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying, "If they want to meet, we'll meet."

 

Trump says willing to meet with Iranian president    (צילום: רויטרס)

Trump says willing to meet with Iranian president   (Video: Reuters)

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Speaking at a news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Trump added: "I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don't know that they're ready yet. I ended the Iran deal. It was a ridiculous deal. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet and I'm ready to meet any time that they want to."

  

But Iranian officials reacted skeptically to Trump's comments, saying instead that if the American president wants talks, he needs to rejoin the international nuclear deal.

 

"Those who believe in dialogue as a method of resolving disputes in civilized societies should be committed to the means," said political adviser Hamid Aboutalebi.

 

Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a senior cleric and member of the influential Expediency Council, said Trump's suggestion Monday that he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani should not be categorically rejected.

 

"It should be discussed in the Supreme National Security Council," said Nategh Nouri, who is also a former aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Nategh Nouri said "we have to contemplate" the gesture, but also cautioned "we should not rejoice over this offer and not get excited."

 

Iranian President Rouhani; US President Trump (Photo: AFP, AP)
Iranian President Rouhani; US President Trump (Photo: AFP, AP)

 

"Trump may take advantage of this over-excitement," he said, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. "It could be a test for us."

 

"If this negotiation (is) carried out in any form, then it will be considered as surrender and the Iranian nation will not surrender," he said.

 

Trump withdrew from the landmark nuclear accord in May, saying it was too generous to Iran. He has vowed to ramp up sanctions until Iran radically changes its regional policies, including its support for regional militant groups, something the country's leaders have long refused to do.

 

Even though Trump on Monday said if Rouhani were to meet with him there would be "no preconditions," he also did not walk back from any of those earlier demands.

 

With the first US sanctions due to come into effect next Monday, the economy in Iran has already been hit, giving rise to growing fears of prolonged economic suffering.

 

The Iranian currency has been in freefall, hitting a new low Monday, at 122,000 rial to the dollar on the thriving black market. It recovered slightly to 115,000 to the dollar on Tuesday, and concerns are growing as Iranians have seen their savings dwindle and purchasing power drop.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

 


First published: 07.31.18, 21:02
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