US President Donald Trump said on Monday he would meet Iran’s president under the right circumstances to end a confrontation over a 2015 nuclear deal and that talks were underway to see how countries could open credit lines to keep Iran’s economy afloat.
But Trump, speaking at a G7 summit in the French resort of Biarritz, ruled out lifting economic sanctions to compensate for losses suffered by Iran.
Trump told reporters it was realistic to envisage a meeting between him and President Hassan Rouhani in coming weeks, describing Iran as a country of “tremendous potential.”
“I have a good feeling. I think he (Rouhani) is going to want to meet and get their situation straightened out. They are hurting badly,” Trump said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, host of the G7 summit, told the same news conference that Rouhani had told him he would be open to meeting Trump. Macron said he hoped a summit between the two men could happen in coming weeks. Trump and Rouhani head to the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Rouhani is not Iran’s top decision-maker. That role is held by the fiercely anti-American Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - and anything agreed at a Trump-Rouhani encounter would be subject to Khamenei’s approval.
European leaders have struggled to calm the deepening confrontation between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.
But Macron has spent the summer trying to create conditions for a period of pause to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table.
“What I hope is that in coming weeks, based on these talks, we can manage to see a summit between President Rouhani and President Trump,” Macron said, adding that he believed if they met a deal could be struck.
Macron’s efforts took a surprise turn on Sunday when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is under US sanctions, flew to the French seaside town of Biarritz where the Group of Seven leaders were meeting.
Trump says ready to meet Iran’s president to solve nuclear impasse