Trump signals could meet with Iran, as security hawk Bolton exits

Daniel Fowler
September 12, 2019

Iran's president says the USA should "put warmongers aside" as tensions roil the Persian Gul amid an escalating crisis between Washington and Tehran in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

Separately, Rouhani said Tehran would not negotiate with Washington while sanctions on his country are still being enforced by Washington.

An hour before speaking with Macron, Rouhani alluded to the departure of USA national Security Adviser John Bolton from his post and said: "The Americans should understand that war-mongering and war-mongers do not serve their interests".

Trump, who tweeted that he "disagreed strongly" with many of Bolton's policy suggestions, reportedly clashed with the veteran of the four presidential administrations over the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan and Syria.

"The United States should understand that militancy has no profit, and must abandon its policy of maximum pressure on Iran", he was quoted as saying. US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord past year and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Ali Rabiei, a government spokesman, said after the meeting that Bolton's dismissal may help the USA have a "less biased" attitude toward Iran.

Reports are crossing the wire this morning showing that now former National Security Advisor Bolton had fundamental disagreements with President Trump over the handling of Iran, particularly, President Trump's willingness to consider easing sanctions to spur a potential meeting between himself and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

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"From the perspective of Iran's government, parliament and people, with the sanctions still in place, negotiations with America have no meaning", Rouhani said in a phone call with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Reuters reported.

The remarks came just 90 minutes after Trump announced he had sent Bolton packing, and Pompeo and Mnuchin cautioned that Bolton's exit should not be seen as heralding major policy shifts. He invited Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif to attend sideline meetings at the G-7 conference in August.

Zarif has often said that a so-called "B-team" including Bolton could goad Trump into a conflict with Tehran.

Earlier this year, Trump also blacklisted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of the Iranian military, as a terrorist group.

The move marks Iran's third breach of the global deal it signed in 2015, under which it agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for economic sanctions relief. It has responded to USA sanctions with steps to reduce its compliance with the accord, and has said it could eventually leave it unless other parties shield its economy from penalties.

"The momentum of Bolton's departure might make a strong argument for a meeting to happen in NY this month, but US-Iranian tensions are not all about Bolton; there are issues that need to be discussed and compromises to be made", Macaron said.

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