WASHINGTON — President Trump said at a news conference today that he’ll “meet with anybody” without preconditions, even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after last week’s war of words.
Trump tweeted eight days ago, “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!”
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted in response, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”
Other Islamic Republic officials made various statements about being ready for war if that’s what Washington wanted.
At a joint press conference today with visiting Italian Prime Minster Giuseppe Conte, Trump was asked whether, after meeting with the leaders of North Korea and Russia, he was ready to meet Rouhani and under what conditions.
Trump touted the concept of “speaking to other people, especially when you’re talking about potentials of war and death and famine and lots of other things — you meet, there’s nothing wrong with meeting.” He reflected on his “so positive” meeting with dictator Kim Jong-un and “great meeting” with Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
“So I believe in meeting, I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” Trump said. “I don’t know that they’re ready yet; they’re having a hard time right now. But 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 anytime they want to.”
“And I don’t do that from strength or from weakness, I think it’s an appropriate thing to do. If we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet.”
Asked if there would be any preconditions to meeting with Rouhani, Trump replied, “No preconditions, no. If they want to meet, I’ll meet anytime they want, anytime they want. Good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”
Iranian media has not yet reported a response from the regime, but Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said earlier today that “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.”
At the opening of remarks, Trump said he and Conte discussed agreement that “the brutal regime in Iran must never be allowed to posses a nuclear weapon, never” and talked about border security.
He praised Conte, who assumed office June 1, for his hardline stance on migration which has included closing Italian ports.
“As far as the border is concerned and personally, if we don’t get border security, after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown. It’s time we had proper border security,” Trump said. “We’re the laughingstock of the world. We have the worst immigration laws anywhere in the world.”
Conte said that “described to President Trump the innovative approach that Italy has put forth” on immigration.
“And the European Union now has a responsibility to not leave the weight of the management of immigration on the shoulders of the countries of first arrival, like Italy is,” the prime minister said. “…We are talking about an approach, a multilevel approach, in order to try to resolve the phenomenon of immigration, not because of an emergency, but because this is a structural approach.”