U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has said that if the news about Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif having been invited to the White House is true, it would undermine the U.S. position.
The New Yorker reported on August 2 that Senator Rand Paul invited Zarif to meet Trump in the Oval Office during their meeting in New York in mid-July. The White house has not confirmed or denied the report.
Graham, an influential Republican senator and a close ally of Trump tweeted August 3, “If true — that an invitation was given to the Foreign Minister of Iran to meet in the Oval Office — no matter how well meaning — it would dramatically undercut our position of strength against Iran.”
Zarif apparently did not accept the invitation, saying that he needed approval from Tehran, according to The New Yorker Report. Later, on July 30 the U.S. sanctioned Zarif, arguing that he is an “apologist” for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
However, The New Yorker report also claims that one day before the Paul-Zarif meeting in New York July 15, Trump and Senators Graham and Paul played golf and discussed extending an invitation to Zarif. It is not clear if Graham voiced any reservations during that conversation about the idea of inviting Zarif to the White House.