Donald Trump is still ready for a meeting "without preconditions" with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani, according to US officials who announced Tuesday new economic sanctions against Tehran.
The announcement came hours after the US president sacked his national security adviser, John Bolton, a "hawk" of the administration who was in favor of absolute firmness on the Iranian record. "The president has made it clear, he is ready for a meeting without preconditions, but we are maintaining the maximum pressure campaign," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a press conference at the White House. "Of course," added Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, questioned about the possibility of a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at the end of the month.
Tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic, historical enemies, have been exacerbated since Washington's withdrawal in May 2018 from the international agreement signed three years earlier. The text, which aimed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, was considered too lax by Donald Trump. If the United States has since reinstated draconian sanctions that stifle the Iranian economy, the real estate mogul is blowing hot and cold, between extreme firmness and willingness to negotiate with Tehran.
Towards a diplomatic relaxation
The idea of a direct dialogue resurfaced at the end of August during the G7 in France, where the Republican billionaire had raised the possibility of authorizing the opening of a "line of credit" limited to Iran. Donald Trump had estimated in early September that a face-to-face with Hassan Rohani was "possible" at the annual gathering of the United Nations in New York. But the Iranian president had previously conditioned a meeting to the lifting of all sanctions against his country.