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Trump says he has no plans to meet ‘lovely’ Iranian President Rouhani

Top adviser to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei rejects US Secretary of State Pompeo’s suggestion of possible meeting with US leader for talks

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he had no plans to meet with his Iranian counterpart despite “requests” to do so, although he indicated a willingness to meet with President Hassan Rouhani sometime in the future.

Trump’s declaration came as a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also brushed off the possibility of the US president meeting with his country’s representatives for talks.

The mutual rejections followed suggestions earlier in the week by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Washington’s envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley that Trump was open to a get-together aimed as resolving the disputes between the Washington and Tehran.

“Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani,” Trump tweeted. “Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!”

Trump, Pompeo, and Rouhani are all expected to be in New York this week for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Earlier Ali Akbar Velayati, a top foreign policy adviser to Khamenei, dispelled the notion of Trump meeting his leader.

“Trump and Pompeo’s dream will never become a reality, that is for sure” the semi-official IRNA news agency quoted him saying.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Velayati also dismissed as “unlikely” the threat of Iran’s oil exports dwindling to zero as a result of pressure from the US and its allies.

In May Trump pulled out of a 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran and demanded it be renegotiated with tighter restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and its missile development. Trump reimposed strict economic sanctions to pressure Iran into talks, including measures to limit the Islamic Republic’s oil exports.

Regarding negotiations with European nations to keep the nuclear deal alive, Velayati said that despite the difficulties Iran expects the Europeans to “comply with their obligations.”

He urged Europe to not be concerned by America, which, he said, was trying to establish its world rule. Russia, China, and Islamic countries were where the future of world power lies, Velayati said.

Also Tuesday Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a statement denouncing Trump’s “evil” adventurism in Iran.

“The evil and adventurous American president has focused on an economic war and cruel sanctions to deviate the Iranian nation from the revolutionary values and its national interests,” the corps said in a statement published on state media and reported by the Reuters news agency.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives for the signing of a trade agreement with South Koreak in New York on September 24, 2018. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

On Sunday, Pompeo and ambassador Haley gave interviews on US media in which they both mentioned that Trump was not averse to meeting Iran’s rulers.

Pompeo told Fox News Sunday that “the leader of [Iran] is Ayatollah Khamenei. That’s who’s running the show in Iran. I think that would be an important and interesting conversation.” Haley told ABC’s This Week that if Rouhani asked for a meeting “I think the president would strongly consider it.”

The other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and Iran — are eager to keep alive the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while hoping to avoid US punishments for not complying with the sanctions.

The European Union said Monday its members would set up a payment system to allow oil companies and businesses to continue trading with Iran in a bid to evade US sanctions.

The countries said in a statement that they were determined “to protect the freedom of their economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran.”

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