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Trump’s Latest Weird Offer to Meet Rouhani

Last year, Trump sought to meet with Iranian President Rouhani immediately after denouncing Iran at the U.N., and his offer was predictably rejected. This week, he made another weird offer to meet with Rouhani:

President Trump said he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without conditions.

“If they want to meet, I’ll meet,” Mr. Trump said Monday, adding that he would be willing to “meeting with anybody.”

If Rouhani wasn’t interested in meeting Trump last November, he has no reason to do so now. Before the U.S. reneged on the JCPOA, the administration’s unremitting hostility to Iran made it very difficult for any Iranian leader to be seen entering into talks with Trump. Now that the U.S. has reneged on the deal and started reimposing sanctions, it is politically impossible for any Iranian politician to entertain such an offer. Iran has its own politics that the Trump administration doesn’t understand, and administration policies are so toxic inside Iran that they have driven rival factions to band together in opposition to U.S. pressure. Trump’s offer to meet Rouhani is made in the same bad faith as the earlier proposal to “fix” the nuclear deal, and it will find the same reception in Tehran.

Trump has routinely feigned interest in getting a “better” deal from Iran while making maximalist demands that amount to calling for Iran’s surrender. He is not interested in any compromise that Iran would be willing to accept, and Iran’s government cannot agree to the demands that he and Pompeo have made. Trump has already proven to the Iranian side that he will violate past agreements for no good reason, so there is no reason for them to negotiate anything with a president who can’t be trusted.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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