Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday confirmed reports that he evaded a proposed telephone conversation with Donald Trump, saying that Trump’s motive was to use the call for his domestic political needs.
At the same time, Rouhani thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for his efforts to try to arrange the doomed phone meeting adding, “Neither Paris nor Tehran are responsible”, instead it was the fault of the White House.
But Rouhani’s accusation against the White House does not correspond with what he said on Monday when he announced that an agreement was made in New York between the remaining members of the 2015 nuclear agreement, clearly indicating that the United States had also endorsed the arrangement.
Speaking about the meeting of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA, Rouhani had said on Monday, they "had discussions within the framework of the P4+1, and preparations for a P5+1 meeting were made, which had been agreed upon by all parties."
The key point in Rouhani's remarks appear to be the contradiction about what happened between him, French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump.
While he reportedly refused to pick up the phone for a three-way conversation, now he accuses Trump of obstructing the talks. However, the way he has been talking about the episode sounds as if he regretted a rare opportunity lost in New York. It is now clear to the world community that Rouhani does not have the final say in Iran and that he had been waiting for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's permission, up to the last minute, which he did not get.
The New Yorker magazine also wrote on September 30, quoting diplomatic sources that apparently a deal was made in New York, which hinged on Rouhani, Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron having a phone call on September 24 to seal a four-point deal. As Macron and Trump waited, Rouhani never emerged from his room. This in effect means no deal was finalized, following which Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran.
In his remarks on Wednesday Rouhani tried to convince his domestic audience that the refusal to talk with Trump was not Iran’s fault. “Many parties tried to arrange negotiations at the level of P5+1 (Including the U.S.) at the U.N. It appeared that they wanted us to say no so that we would be come out to be the guilty party. I am telling the great Iranian nation that what these days some are trying to say in their global propaganda is far from reality”.
Rouhani said on Wednesday that Trump should have said in public rather than in a private message that he was prepared to lift the sanctions. "It was Iranian cleverness that prompted me not to be deceived by a private message," Rouhani said. This comes while Trump has been consistently saying that sanctions will not be lifted unless Iran changed its behavior.
"Mr. Trump should have at least said that he was not going down the previous path," Rouhani added.
Rouhani revealed that he "accepted the general terms of Macron's plan for a trilateral talk but did not approve of the wording of the plan.” He says that was why he "was not confident to enter the meeting."
He added he would have entered into negotiation with America if he had "a minimum of trust in the White House."
Not mentioning that he still needed Khamenei's permission, Rouhani said that he was "prepared to make any sacrifice to restore the rights of the Iranian people and secure their welfare."
As another sign of Ruhani's regret for the opportunity he lost in New York for a rapprochement with the United States, he said: "This is not the end of the road. It is still open. Europeans and others will try again, if they respect the dignity of the Iranian people."