President Donald Trump said he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a White House press conference on Monday.
“I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know if they’re ready yet,” Trump said, when asked at a White House press conference about a possible meeting with Rouhani.
Trump said he would set “no preconditions,” and, “If they want to meet, I’ll meet, anytime they want.”
Bahram Qassemi, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, quickly rebuked Trump in a news conference in Tehran on Monday, saying, “With current America and these policies, there will definitely not be the possibility of dialogue and engagement, and the United States has shown that it is totally unreliable.”
This comes just days after a fiery exchange between the countries’ two leaders, with Rouhani telling a group of Iranian diplomats that “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Of course, that comment was followed by a widely-talked-about all-caps tweet President Trump sent out last week:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California on July 23, saying, “The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the Mafia more than a government.”
In his speech, Pompeo said the Trump Administration would be willing to hold talks with the Iranian government if it stops repressing dissidents and religious minorities and stops supporting militant groups in conflicts elsewhere in the region.
“To our Iranian American and Iranian friends,” Pompeo said, “tonight I tell you that the Trump administration dreams the same dreams for the people of Iran as you do, and through our labors and God’s providence, that day will come true.”
Despite Trump’s willingness to speak with Iranian leaders, he has made clear that he is sticking with his hard-line no nuclear weapons stance. Iran must “never be allowed” to possess nuclear weapons, he said on Monday.
By the looks of the most recent exchange, a meeting between the two countries is unlikely, But at least the president can say he tried diplomacy.