Trump’s olive branch to Iran

AMERICAN President Donald Trump has expressed his willingness to meet Iran’s leader without preconditions to discuss how to improve ties after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal, saying: ‘If they want to meet, we’ll meet.’ Asked at a White House news conference whether he was willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Trump said: ‘I’d meet with anybody. I believe in meetings,’ especially in cases where war is at stake.
This is in sharp contrast to his harsh tweet a week ago when he threatened President Rouhani of unprecedented consequences. Rouhani hit back by declaring that the hostile US policies could lead to mother of all wars. The growing tension between the two countries was a serious threat to peace and therefore, willingness of the US President to meet Iranian leader without preconditions might create congenial atmosphere for actual process of dialogue to begin. The latest round of tension began with the US decision to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal unilaterally and now pressure is also being built on US allies to limit economic, trade and financial ties with Tehran. It is in this backdrop that an aide to the Iranian President responded to the US offer by insisting that any talks with the United States had to start with reducing hostility and a return to the nuclear deal. But meeting for the sake of meeting would be a futile exercise unless it is backed by confidence building measures and steps aimed at reducing bilateral tension. This can be done by reversing the US decision to impose new sanctions against Iran and Washington should stop talking about new deal that goes beyond limiting Iran’s nuclear programme and includes curbs to its regional behaviour and missile programme.
Foreign policy experts also see contradictions in the latest US offer as the President is expressing willingness to meet without preconditions but immediately afterwards Secretary of State offered his own interpretation by claiming that the President would meet if the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to making fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their maligned behaviour etc. This is classic example of one step forward and two steps backward.

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