Trump says he would 'certainly meet' with Iran's Rouhani
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said today he'd "certainly meet" with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and without preconditions, if the Iranian leader were willing.
Speaking during a joint news conference with Italy's premier, Trump said he would meet with the Iranians "anytime they want to."
"I'll meet with anybody," he said. "There's nothing wrong with meeting."
The overture marks a significant shift in tone and comes as Trump and the Iranians have been escalating their rhetoric following Trump's May withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear accord.
The administration is set to begin reimposing sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 deal next month and has been ratcheting up a pressure campaign on the Islamic republic that many suspect is aimed at regime change.
And it's unclear whether Rouhani has any interest in meeting. Rouhani's chief of staff claimed earlier this month in Iran's state-owned newspaper that Rouhani had rejected eight requests from Trump for one-on-one talks last year.
Rouhani recently warned the U.S. that "war with Iran is the mother of all wars," prompting an all-caps retort from Trump.
"To Iranian President Rouhani," he wrote on Twitter. "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."
He ended the message with a warning: "BE CAUTIOUS!"
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fired back with his own message that began, "COLOR US UNIMPRESSED."
Trump tempered his threatening rhetoric two days later when he said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.