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Spokesman Says Rouhani Will Not Meet Trump, While Talks Continue With France


Hassan Rouhani, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, pictured around the time of the UN General Assembly in 2018.

Iran's government spokesman says President Hassan Rouhani is not slated to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and that no conditions have been set for such a meeting.

"There is no reason for a meeting between Rouhani and an economic terrorist," Ali Rabiei said using the expression "economic terrorism" which is the Islamic Republic official jargon for U.S. sanctions.

Responding to a question about Rouhani's conflicting remarks last week about the possibility of a meeting with Trump, Rabiei said there was no contradiction between Rouhani's various remarks, adding that Rouhani simply spoke about "principles."

Rouhani had said on Monday August 26 that he wouldn't mind meeting with a "certain individual" if it served Iran's interests. A day later, Rouhani said anyone who wants his picture taken with him "should first lift all the oppressive sanctions."

According to Rabiei, Rouhani had said "Working meetings with anyone is fine if it helps national interests, however, he would refuse if a meeting would be in against national interests as he is responsible to secure national interests and do what is good for the people."

It appears that Rabiei's account is about what Rouhani wanted to say rather than what he said. Videos of Rouhani's speech are available online and there is nothing similar to Rabiei's interpretation in those videos.

Several conservative figures including 83 members of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) protested Rouhani's statement and described it as remarks that contradict the position taken by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has prohibited negotiations with the United States.

Meanwhile, Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi (Raeisi) said "The Americans are after negotiating as they have reached the end of the road," adding that "what Iran wants is an economic breakthrough and the lifting of sanctions and not negotiation." He called on the U.S. and EU to left the sanctions imposed on Iran.

In another development, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Moscow while an Iranian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (Araghchi) arrived in Paris on Monday to follow up the talks between Zarif and French officials on August 25 in Biarritz.

Iran expects Europe to help Tehran sell its oil and repatriate oil revenues to Iran without being affected by U.S. sanctions and France has said it has plans to help Iran if Iran stops relinquishing its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran's government spokesman said on Monday Iran and France's views have become closer over Tehran's nuclear deal, mainly after phone calls between President Hassan Rouhani and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said on Monday September 2 that Tehran welcomes Moscow's suggestion about restoring security in the Persian Gulf. However, he did not elaborate on Moscow's suggestion.

During recent months, Russia has repeatedly criticized the U.S. and UK's performance in the Persian Gulf region and has presented a document entitled "The Concept of Collective Security in the Persian Gulf" to the United Nations Organization.

Meanwhile, speaking on the Iranian delegation's visit to Paris, Zarif said Iran will go ahead with the third step in suspending its commitments under the nuclear deal with the West.

In the first and second steps, Iran exceeded the 3.67 percent uranium enrichment and the 300-kilogram stockpile of enriched uranium. The deadline for taking the third step is later in this week.

Zarif also reiterated that Iran will not take part in any negotiation about its missile program.

Upon his arrival in Moscow on Sunday, Zarif had characterized Russia as "a Friend for difficult days" while saying that he visits Russia and China to discuss the latest developments about the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with the two countries.

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    Behrouz Turani

    Behrouz Turani is a British-Iranian writer and journalist as well as a consultant on Iran's political dynamics and the Iranian media landscape.

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