Donald Trump offers to meet Iran’s President with 'no preconditions'
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan24) – Donald Trump made the surprise announcement Monday afternoon, in a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, that he was prepared to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
A reporter, noting that Trump had met with the presidents of North Korea and Russia, asked if he was willing to meet with Iran’s president. Trump replied, “I’ll meet with anybody. I believe in meeting.”
Asked if he had any preconditions, Trump responded, “No preconditions,” adding, “If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want.”
Trump described as highly successful his meeting in June with Kim-Jung Un, the North Korean leader, as he affirmed, “You haven’t had a missile fired off in nine months,” and “we got our prisoners back.”
“So many things have happened,” Trump continued. “So positive.”
However, as The Washington Post reported later on Monday, US intelligence agencies now believe that North Korea is constructing new inter-continental missiles, capable of hitting the US, as well as continuing to produce fissile material that could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
It is, thus, not clear that Trump got what he thinks from his meeting with North Korea’s President.
Tehran’s immediate response to Trump’s offer was cool. An aide to Rouhani tweeted, “Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America.”
And US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, soon added conditions to Trump’s proposal.
“If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation,” Pompeo told CNBC in an interview following Trump’s press conference, “then the President has said he is prepared to sit down and have the conversation with him.”
For many observers, Trump’s suggestion of a meeting with Iran’s leadership was reminiscent of his diplomacy with North Korea: fiery rhetoric and the threat—even the imposition—of sanctions, followed by unprecedented negotiations.
Partly, because the results of Trump’s summit with the North Korean leader are so ambiguous, analysts wonder why the result of any discussions with Iran would be different.
In fact, Col. Norvell DeAtkine (US Army, Ret.), a Middle East expert, who long taught Special Forces at Ft. Bragg, suggested to Kurdistan 24 that it would be to Iran’s advantage to agree to talk with Trump.
“It’s the wrong time” to be meeting with Iranian leaders, DeAtkine said. He noted that Maj. Gen. Qasim Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had just mocked US soldiers, saying they had to keep sanitary pads in their tanks, because they were afraid to get out of them, and “this was broadcast throughout the world.”
“In the big picture,” DeAtkine added, “talking to your enemy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it’s at an inopportune time,” it is like “Neville Chamberlain, flying to Germany to talk to Adolph Hitler about Czechoslovakia”—the epitome in contemporary Western thinking of wrong-headed concessions to an aggressor that simply made the problem worse.
Tehran is likely to see Trump’s overture as a sign of weakness, DeAtkine suggested. Trump talked tough, “but he’s more than willing to let bygones be bygones,” when they respond in kind—or that, at least, is likely to be the view in Tehran.
DeAtkine also suggested that Trump’s proposal would be “very confusing” to US allies in the region and “probably somewhat disheartening.”