Iran again rebuffs US talk of Trump-Rouhani meeting

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TEHRAN, Sept 11, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Iran on Wednesday rejected the
possibility of a meeting between President Hassan Rouhani and US counterpart
Donald Trump, after the White House signalled it was open to such an
encounter.

Two of Trump’s top lieutenants on Tuesday indicated he was ready to meet
the Iranian president without preconditions, after the US leader sacked his
hawkish national security adviser John Bolton.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
stressed the United States would maintain its campaign of “maximum pressure”
against the Islamic republic.

The idea of a Trump-Rouhani meeting was floated last month by French
President Emmanuel Macron, who has been spearheading European efforts to de-
escalate tensions between Iran and the United States.

The arch-foes have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump
unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing crippling
sanctions on Iran.

Iran’s representative at the United Nations reiterated Rouhani’s position
in an interview published Wednesday by state news agency IRNA.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi said a meeting could take place only if Washington
ends its “economic terrorism” by lifting all of its sanctions against Tehran.

The Iranian envoy said any meeting must also be held in the framework of
the group of major powers that negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal.

“As long as the US government’s economic terrorism and such cruel
sanctions are imposed on the Iranian people, there is no room for
negotiations,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.

The diplomat said Trump’s decision to dismiss Bolton — a hardliner
accused of pushing Trump towards war against Iran — was a matter for the
Americans.

“The removal of John Bolton is an internal affair and we don’t take stands
on domestic issues,” said Takht-Ravanchi.

Asked about the impact of Bolton’s sacking on long-fraught relations
between Iran and the United States, he said it was “too soon” to make any
judgements.

“Whether the extremist policy of the US changes or not depends on various
factors in US foreign policy,” he told ISNA.

Bolton is a controversial figure closely linked to the 2003 invasion of
Iraq and other aggressive US foreign policy decisions.

He had been seen as one of the main driving forces in the White House’s
muscular approach to Iran, North Korea and Venezuela among others.

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