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August 28, 2019 10:56 am

Bolton: Trump’s Willingness to Meet Iranian Leaders is Not a Policy Shift

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US National Security Advisor John Bolton. Photo: Michael Vadon via Flickr. – US President Donald Trump’s willingness to meet with Iranian leaders does not reflect a change in his administration’s tough stance on the Islamic Republic, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday.

“Talking with [Iran] does not imply, for President Trump, changing your position, and the idea that Iran would receive some tangible economic benefit merely for stopping doing things it shouldn’t have been in the first place is just a nonstarter,” said Bolton.

Speaking to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty during a trip to Ukraine, Bolton said that “if there is a comprehensive deal then of course the sanctions will come off at that point. When the regime in Iran is ready to talk about that then there’ll be a meeting.” However, as far as Trump is concerned, said Bolton, “He’ll meet with anybody to talk. He is a negotiator. He is a dealmaker.”

“I think if you look at what President Trump has said about the Iran nuclear deal, which he called the worst deal in US diplomatic history—a view I think is amply justified by the facts—he is not going to make the same mistakes that President [Barack] Obama made,” he added.

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On Monday, Trump said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron that he was ready to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but Rouhani replied on Tuesday that the United States would have to “retreat from their mistakes” before he would meet with American officials.

“Without the US’s withdrawal from sanctions, we will not witness any positive development,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

However, Rouhani had said on Monday that “if I knew that going to a meeting and visiting a person would help my country’s development and resolve the problems of the people, I would not miss it.”

Bolton’s statements come two days after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif also rejected the idea of meeting with American officials, following an invitation to France for talks on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

“I said during the visit to [the G7 summit] that no meeting between the Iranian president and Trump could be imagined. We will not have any bilateral talks until the US joins the G5+1 and implements the nuclear deal; even then there won’t be any bilateral talks,” said Zarif, according to the Iranian Fars news agency.

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