Iran’s Rouhani Rejects Trump Meeting: Says U.S. Must Take ‘First Step’ and Drop Sanctions

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. Elsewhere gunmen disguised as soldiers attacked a annual parade in the southwestern …
AP/Ebrahim Noroozi

The United States must “take the first step” and lift all sanctions against Iran before President Hassan Rouhani will consider taking up Donald Trump’s offer of a personal meeting.

That was the message sent from the Islamic republic Tuesday when Rouhani used a speech aired live on state television to respond to Trump’s offer to meet with his Iranian counterpart within weeks, in a potential breakthrough reached during the G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz. Rouhani said:

The first step is to retreat from sanctions. You must retreat from all illegal, unjust and wrong sanctions against the nation of Iran.

Without the U.S.’s withdrawal from sanctions, we will not witness any positive development.

If someone intends to make it as just a photo op with Rouhani, that is not possible.

Earlier on Monday, Rouhani expressed readiness to negotiate a way out of the crisis following America’s pullout from the flawed JCPOA nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama.

He said “the key for positive change is in the hands of Washington,” because Iran had already ruled out ever doing what worries the U.S. the most — building an atomic bomb.

Rouhani has previously indicated he is open to holding talks with the Americans, but it is an approach that has faced criticism at home from Iran’s ultra-conservative Islamic leadership.

Both Rouhani and Trump are scheduled to be in New York for the U.N. General Assembly at the end of September which could provide a new forum for talks.

AFP contributed to this story

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