Iran to Trump: What's guarantee you won't renege again?
US President Donald Trump said Thursday that he is open to talks with the Iranian leadership, amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran.
"What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me," Trump told reporters at the White House, a day after he slapped Iran with new sanctions.
Trump, who last year pulled the US out of a 2015 nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran, has expressed a willingness to meet Iranian leaders in the past to no avail and renewed that appeal in talking to reporters.
“What they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down. We can make a deal, a fair deal... And we would help put them back to great shape.”
He added: “They should call. If they do, we’re open to talk to them.”
"I want them to be strong and great, to have a great economy," Trump said
The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf amid the rising tensions, but Trump said Washington was not looking for a conflict with Tehran.
At the impromptu news conference at the White House, Trump declined to say what prompted him to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the region over what was described as unspecified threats.
“We have information that you don’t want to know about,” said Trump. “They were very threatening and we have to have great security for this country and many other places.”
Trump was asked whether there was a risk of military confrontation with the American military presence in the area.
“I guess you could say that always, right? I don’t want to say no, but hopefully that won’t happen. We have one of the most powerful ships in the world that is loaded up and we don’t want to do anything,” he said.
The 2015 JCPOA, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, between Iran and world powers including the EU offered sanctions relief to the Islamic republic for scaling back its nuclear program. Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement in May of last year and reinstated unilateral economic sanctions.
On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would no longer implement parts of the deal and threatened to go further if the remaining members of the pact failed to deliver sanctions relief to counterbalance Trump's renewed assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days.
Shortly after Trump spoke, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a written statement that reinforced Trump’s friendly tone. Pompeo appealed to “those in Tehran who see a path to a prosperous future” through modifying Iran’s behavior.
Pompeo quoted Trump as saying he “looks forward to someday meeting with leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves.”
Trump’s openness for talks with Iran was a shift from the hawkish tone of his top foreign policy aides, including National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton and Pompeo had been ramping up their criticism of Iran in recent months as they pushed Trump to apply “maximum pressure” to the country, and Bolton has previously been a fierce advocate for regime change there.
Iran: No guarantee US won’t renege
Asked about Trump’s comments, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi said Thursday Iran had been talking with the six powers, including the United States, within the framework of the nuclear deal.
"All of a sudden he decided to leave the negotiating table. What is the guarantee that he will not renege again on the future talks between Iran and the United States?" Takht Ravanchi said in an MSNBC interview.
He stressed that Trump had "torn up" the deal despite the fact that it was a multilateral nuclear accord signed by world powers and backed by the UN Security Council.
"The president just said that what he wants from Iran is to not have nuclear weapons, apparently he hasn't read the 14 reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency saying that Iran has been upholding all its obligations based on the JCPOA nuclear deal," Takht Ravanchi added.
Asked whether Tehran would continue to comply with the nuclear deal following the US withdrawal, Takht Ravanchi said the deal had been greatly undermined by Washington and that Tehran would respond based on its national interests.
"Europeans have told us not to rush to get out of the nuclear deal, and we accepted their suggestion and for the last year we have been waiting for any credible and practical response, not just words of support, which are good, but it is not enough," he said.
The envoy also dismissed US allegations of an Iranian threat as “fake intelligence”.
"These are all allegations that are being produced by the same people who to the run-up to the US invasion to Iraq, did the same," he said, referring to the US' false claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that lead to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
AFP, AP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.