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Trump Sought Repeatedly To Meet With Iran's Rouhani Last Year, Aide Says

Iranian President Hassan Rohani (center) along with Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan (right) and Chief of Staff Mahmud Vaezi

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff is claiming that U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly asked to meet with Rouhani during his visit to New York for the UN General Assembly last year.

"Trump asked the Iranian delegation eight times to have a meeting with the president," Iranian news agencies quoted Mahmud Vaezi as saying on July 18.

Vaezi said the Iranian team did not respond to the requests, which came shortly after Trump announced he would no longer certify that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear deal in a move that foreshadowed his eventual withdrawal from the pact in May.

"We have a transparent policy and clear position with regard to our relations with the U.S...that [we] will not yield to pressure," Vaezi said.

Tehran said in October that Trump had requested a sit-down with his Iranian counterpart during the UN meeting, but the claim of numerous requests had not previously been made.

A Trump-Rouhani meeting would have been the first between the presidents of the two longtime adversaries since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Trump last week claimed that Iran is in economic "pain" as a result of his decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimpose U.S. sanctions, and he suggested that Iranian leaders will eventually call him and negotiate a new deal.

Trump has been seeking a deal that goes beyond the 2015 agreement, which curbs Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, by curbing Iran's development of ballistic missiles and involvement in regional conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Iran has said it will not renegotiate the nuclear deal and it is working with the other world powers that signed the deal to find ways around the looming U.S. sanctions, which are due to go into effect by November.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP