Iran says ‘no plans’ for Rouhani-Trump meeting on UN sidelines

Iran says ‘no plans’ for Rouhani-Trump meeting on UN sidelines

Foreign ministry spokesman says such an event is unlikely amid Washington’s ‘economic terrorism’

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at parliament in the capital Tehran on September 3, 2019. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at parliament in the capital Tehran on September 3, 2019. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)

TEHRAN — Iran has not made any plans for President Hassan Rouhani to meet his US counterpart Donald Trump on the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly, a spokesman said Monday.

“We have neither planned for this meeting, nor do I think such a thing would happen in New York,” the foreign ministry’s Abbas Mousavi said in remarks aired on state television.

The White House said on Sunday that Trump may still meet Rouhani at the UN meeting in New York next week, despite accusations from Washington that Tehran was behind weekend drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

“As we have stated before, if the Americans return to the JCPOA and cease their economic terrorism, they can return to the joint commission and talk,” Mousavi added.

US President Donald Trump updates the media on Hurricane Dorian preparedness from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, September 4, 2019. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

He was referring to a commission within the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a 2015 agreement that gave Iran the promise of relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Tensions between the two countries have soared since Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the JCPOA in May last year and began reimposing crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

European powers led by French President Emmanuel Macron have been trying to salvage the nuclear accord defuse the crisis, with  Macron proposing a meeting between Rouhani and Trump.

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that the two could hold talks during the annual summit of world leaders, possibly in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions the American leader imposed on Tehran after withdrawing from the atomic accord.

General view of the UN General Assembly on December 6, 2018. (UN/Loey Felipe)

Trump on Sunday denied that he was willing to meet with Iranian leaders with “no conditions,” blaming the “fake news” media for spreading the idea.

“The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!),” Trump tweeted.

His denial comes despite several top administration officials, including his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo  and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin specifically saying so in recent days.

Mnuchin said Thursday that Trump had made clear “he would sit down with Rouhani with no condition.” And Pompeo told reporters days earlier that “the president has made clear he is happy to take a meeting with no preconditions.”

Iran has said it is unwilling to meet with Trump while crushing sanctions are in place over its nuclear program.

The Trump administration wants Iran to agree to stricter terms to the nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Iran from producing nuclear weapons, and also to limit its ballistic missile program. In response to the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the imposition of sanctions, Iran has reduced some of its own commitments to the nuclear deal, which it also signed at the time with Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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