The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari has ruled out US President Donald Trump's July 30 offer to meet his Iranian counterpart President Hassan Rouhani "with no precondition."
Jafari told Trump in message posted on IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency, "Iran is not [like] North Korea to welcome your call for holding talks," adding, "the Iranian people will not allow their officials to meet and hold talks with the great Satan."
He said Trump will have "to take the dream of negotiating with Iran to his grave," Tasnim quoted him as saying.
Jafari made the comment while Khamenei has still not commented on Trump's offer.
Hours before Jafari's comment, Expediency Council member Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri has asked Iran's top officials not to say "no" quickly, and discuss the matter at the Supreme National Security Council, a body chaired by President Hassan Rouhani.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian officials and media had cautiously reacted to the offer in disbelief, insisting on Tehran's usual sceptic rhetoric about America. Former officials from the reform camp, however, were quick to welcome the offer.
In what could have been a brief ad hoc initial reaction by Rouhani, he said during a meeting with South Korea's new ambassador to Tehran on July 31, "U.S. decisions about Iran are ephemeral," Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted him as saying.
Otherwise, no top official was quick to react. Iran watchers expect Rouhani to address the offer in his long-awaited TV interview or Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to voice his view in his weekly Wednesday speech.
However, the initial reactions by the media and officials stopped short of either welcoming or ruling out Trump’s offer, which followed days of belligerent discourse.
IRGC-linked Fars news agency, in an early morning commentary on July 31, accused Trump of "contradicting himself" and opined that Trump's diplomacy is aimed to "make Iran surrender" rather than calling for a dialogue.
"How can one believe Trump's claim of offering to talk without preconditions while he has just pulled out of an agreement that was the result of two years of talks with Iran and called on the whole world to put pressure on Tehran?" the commentary asked.
Presidential adviser Hamid Aboutalebi set his own conditions for possible talks in a tweet, demanding, "Respect for the great nation of Iran, reduction in hostilities, and U.S. returning to the nuclear deal."
Former Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani tweeted, "Trump set aside his own previous words and the 12 conditions set by Pompeo. You cannot set conditions for such a stance."
Addressing the same concern as Aboutalebi, former U.S. nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman tweeted, "Mr. President, Iran just might have a precondition -- rejoin the community of nations in support of the JCPOA that ensures Iran can never obtain a nuclear weapon."
Meanwhile, former Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh said in a tweet, "If I were Rouhani, in spite of my distrust of Trump … I would have said I would hold transparent and frank talks with him at the next UN General Assembly."
Other Iranians on Twitter also reacted to Trump's offer. Sepehr Khorami wrote, "Trump threw the ball in Iran's court. Iran's rulers have either to drink the cup of poison again, or face harder economic crisis and financial problems."
Hoda Hashemi, another Iranian on Twitter, wrote, "I hope Trump's offer is really without any preconditions, and I hope Iran would accept the same without setting its own conditions… People are living in a difficult situation, there is a lot of poverty and other social problems." ]
Trump said on July 30 that he would be willing to meet with Rouhani with no preconditions to discuss ways of improving ties between the two countries.
"I'd meet with anybody. I believe in meetings," Trump said during a joint news conference with Italy's prime minister in Washington, adding he believes in "speaking to other people, especially when you're talking about potentials of war and death and famine and lots of other things."
Asked whether he would set any preconditions for the meeting, Trump said, "No preconditions, no. If they want to meet, I'll meet anytime they want." He added that it would be "good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world.”