Fresh from his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un, President Trump is anxious to add another entry to his passport. The president said today that he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “whenever they want.”
“I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” Trump said during a joint news conference at the White House in response to a question about President Obama’s Iran deal. “I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet. I'm ready to meet whenever they want to.”
“No preconditions," he added. "They want to meet, I'll meet, whenever they want.”
Trump’s meetings with Chairman Kim and President Putin were also without preconditions and apparently without agendas. In both cases, the president met privately with only the other leader and translators in the room.
In 2008, candidate Barack Obama’s suggestion that he would meet the leaders of renegade countries without preconditions was roundly criticized by both Republicans and Hillary Clinton alike. Trump’s unscripted meetings have been widely backed by the GOP despite a lack of progress from North Korea on denuclearization and an embarrassing press conference with Putin. Mr. Trump has also faced criticism that his meetings serve to legitimize anti-American dictators.
Mr. Trump’s offer of a sit-down comes after a warning last week from Rouhani. “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, echoing a statement from former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who could not be reached for comment.
The president responded in typical Trump fashion with a strongly worded tweet [capitals are his], “To Iranian President Rouhani: 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. BE CAUTIOUS!”
Earlier this year, President Trump decertified President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Cancelling the deal allows Trump to restore the sanctions against Iran that Obama had suspended. The president may hope that the prospect of sanctions will force the Iranians to the table.
So far, the Iranians have not responded to the offer.
[Photo credit: Kremlin.ru]