US President Donald Trump left the door open Wednesday to meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, while saying the Islamic Republic is worried about its very survival.
“It’s possible, anything is possible,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked about the possibility of a face-to-face with Rouhani during the gathering later this month.
“We’ll see what happens with Iran. Whether they want to talk or not, that’s up to them, not up to me,” said the US leader, who decided in May to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.
“Iran is a much different place than when I took over the presidency,” Trump added, describing the country as “in turmoil.”
“When I took office it was just a question of how long until they took over the entire Middle East. Now they are just worrying about their own survival as a country.”
Trump is due to lead September 26 meeting of heads of state of the UN Security Council, with the goal of ramping up pressure on Tehran over its alleged violations of council resolutions.
The US is seeking to renegotiate a stricter nuclear deal with Iran after Washington in May withdrew from a 2015 international agreement saying it failed to do enough to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons and stop its ballistic missile program.
With the United States now holding the presidency of the Security Council, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday said the aim was to put further pressure on Tehran.
But Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Wednesday hit out at the US plan.
“There’s only one UNSC resolution on Iran…@realDonaldTrump is violating it & bullying others to do same,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Washington has sought to build up international pressure on Iran after reimposing tough, unilateral sanctions on August 7 and setting a November 5 deadline for halting Iran’s oil exports.
Iran’s economy has been battered as countries wrap up trade ties in fear of violating the US sanctions which Washington said would be strictly imposed.