US President Donald Trump said on Monday that he will meet Iran’s president under the right circumstances to end a confrontation over a 2015 nuclear deal, Reuters reports.
Talks were underway to see how countries can open credit lines to keep Iran’s economy afloat, Trump was quoted as saying.
But Trump, speaking at a G7 summit in the French resort of Biarritz, ruled out lifting economic sanctions to compensate for losses suffered by Iran.
Trump told reporters that it is realistic to envisage a meeting between him and President Hassan Rouhani in coming weeks, describing Iran as a country of “tremendous potential”.
“I have a good feeling. I think he (Rouhani) is going to want to meet and get their situation straightened out. They are hurting badly,” Trump said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, host of the G7 summit, told the same news conference that Rouhani told him that he would be open to meeting Trump.
Macron said he hopes a summit between the two can happen in coming weeks. Trump and Rouhani head to the United Nations General Assembly in September.
European leaders have struggled to calm the deepening confrontation between Tehran and Washington since Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Macron has spent the summer trying to create conditions that would bring the sides back to the negotiating table.
“What I hope is that in coming weeks, based on these talks, we can manage to see a summit between President Rouhani and President Trump,” Macron said, adding he believes if they meet a deal can be struck.
Macron’s efforts took a surprise turn on Sunday when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is under US sanctions, flew to Biarritz.
Trump said he is not open to giving Iran compensation for sanctions. However he said the idea under discussion would be for numerous countries to give Iran a credit line.
“No we are not paying, we don’t pay,” Trump said.
“But they may need some money to get them over a very rough patch and if they do need money, and it would be secured by oil, which to me is great security, and they have a lot of oil… so we are really talking about a letter of credit. It would be from numerous countries, numerous countries.”
The 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers, reached under former US President Barack Obama, aimed to curb Iran’s disputed uranium enrichment program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran.
Since ditching the deal last year, Trump has pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” to try to force Iran into broader talks to restrict its ballistic missile program and end its support for proxy forces around the Middle East.
During his brief visit on Sunday, Zarif held talks with Macron and British and German officials before returning home.
Though potentially a diplomatic minefield, Macron’s gamble with Zarif appears to have worked out for now, as Trump endorsed the initiative and toned down his rhetoric on Tehran.
While Trump reaffirmed Washington’s goal of extracting further-reaching security concessions from Iran, he said he wants to see “a really good Iran, really strong”, adding that Washington is not looking for regime change.
“I knew (Zarif) was coming in and I respected the fact that he was coming in. We’re looking to make Iran rich again, let them be rich, let them do well, if they want,” Trump said.
“What we want is very simple. It’s got to be non-nuclear (as well),” Trump said. “We’re going to talk about ballistic missiles…, about the timing. But they (Iran) have to stop terrorism. I think they are going to change, I really do.”
Rouhani signaled a readiness to meet Trump if that helps Iran, according to the official presidency website.
“If I know that in meeting with somebody the problem of my country would be solved, I wouldn’t hesitate because the central issue is the national interests of the country,” Rouhani said.
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