Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani talk about talking to each other

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Gives A Press Conference In Tehran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives a press conference on May 22, 2017 in Tehran, Iran.

Source: The Economist

THE G7 SUMMIT drew to a close on August 26th in the French seaside town of Biarritz amid improbable displays of goodwill and bonhomie. President Donald Trump declared the meeting a “true success”, and claimed that “nobody wanted to leave”. President Emmanuel Macron, the French summit host, thanked the American president profusely for enabling a “real partnership” between the two countries. The conflict and theatrics that the French had feared might split the G7 and wreck the meeting failed to materialise.

Perhaps the most startling, and spectacular, outcome was Mr Macron’s announcement that a face-to-face meeting between Mr Trump and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani could take place in the “coming weeks”. On August 25th, the French president had pulled off what looked suspiciously like a stunt when he invited Muhammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, to Biarritz for meetings outside the G7 format. Yet a day later, there was Mr Trump, standing beside the French president, acknowledging that “if the circumstances were right” he would “certainly agree” to such a meeting. “I have a good feeling,” Mr Trump declared, saying the Iranians wanted to meet because they were “hurting badly” as a result of American sanctions.

Mr Macron’s diplomatic team has been working for weeks on ways to try to ease tensions with Iran, and to find some way to preserve the principles embodied in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if not the accord itself. Signed in 2015, the JCPOA limited Iran’s nuclear programme, pushing back its ability to “break out” as a nuclear-weapons power in exchange for the partial lifting of sanctions. Mr Trump withdrew from it last year, and embarked on a policy of “maximum pressure” to cripple Iran’s economy.

Hours before Mr Trump spoke at the G7, Mr Rouhani signalled that his administration was also willing to talk. “If I know that by meeting someone, the problem of my country will be solved, I will not hesitate,” he said in a speech. At the time, his words seemed a defence of Mr Zarif, whose trip to Biarritz was poorly received by conservatives at home. Kayhan, a choleric newspaper close to the supreme leader said it projected “weakness and desperation”. But his comments also suggest he would be open to a personal meeting with Mr Trump.

If a Trump-Rouhani summit came off, it would be the first between American and Iranian leaders since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

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Recommended by  Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Categories: The Muslim Times

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