Two of Donald Trump’s top lieutenants said Tuesday he is ready to meet his Iranian counterpart without preconditions after the US president sacked his hawkish national security advisor, while insisting there will be no easing of pressure on Tehran.
Even as the removal of national security hardliner John Bolton triggered speculation that Trump might soften his approach to Iran, secretary of state Mike Pompeo joined Israel in alleging “possible undeclared nuclear activities” by Tehran, and the US administration imposed new terrorist designations on leaders of some groups linked to the Islamic republic.
Amid the fraught political climate, trump loyalists signaled he is prepared to meet with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani something that French president Emmanuel Macron had proposed in an effort to salvage a 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran from which trump withdrew the united states.
Pompeo, standing alongside Mnuchin in the white house, said “sure” when asked whether trump could meet Rouhani later this month at the united nations general assembly in new york.
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.
Tehran reacted swiftly to Bolton’s departure, with a Rouhani aide saying it signaled Washington’s pressure was failing.
Tensions have been escalating between Iran and the United States since may last year, when Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran and began reimposing sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
A potential summit between Trump and the Iranian leadership sparked interest from the mogul-turned-president, but it is adamantly opposed by Netanyahu, who faces elections next week and sees Iran as an existential threat.