Trump slams Kerry for ‘illegal meeting’ with Iranians after leaving office
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Trump slams Kerry for ‘illegal meeting’ with Iranians after leaving office

Former secretary of state says discussions with Tehran officials completely legitimate, states ‘everybody in the world is talking about waiting out President Trump’

In this January 16, 2016 file photo, then-secretary of state John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP, File)
In this January 16, 2016 file photo, then-secretary of state John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP, File)

US President Donald Trump on Thursday slammed former secretary of state John Kerry, accusing him of holding “illegal meetings” with the Iranian regime and of urging Iran’s leaders to “wait out the Trump Administration”

“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people,” Trump tweeted late Thursday.

“He told them to wait out the Trump Administration! Was he registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act? BAD!” Trump said, referring to a law requiring those who represent or lobby for foreign governments to declare their activities.

Trump’s attack came after Kerry, who is promoting a new book, acknowledged to Fox News in an interview that he had met with Iranian officials after leaving office “a few times, two or three times.”

Kerry, a principal architect of the Iranian nuclear deal, which Trump pulled out of in May, denied that his talks were about the nuclear issue.

“It’s to talk to them more importantly about their behavior and what are the ways forward,” Kerry said. “If they are going to continue to meddle in Yemen, in other countries, Saudi Arabia, or to supply weapons to Hezbollah,  or mess around in Syria, we have legitimate concerns.”

Kerry also said that all of his meetings occurred before Trump pulled out of the deal and denied there was anything illegal or improper about them.

“Every former secretary of state has meetings. We don’t negotiate and we don’t interfere with policy, but we talk, we have reasonable discussions about the world” he said.

When asked if he advised the Iranians to wait out Trump, he did not directly answer, saying only: “I think everybody in the world is talking about waiting out President Trump.”

US President Donald Trump addresses a Congressional Medal of Honor Society reception at the White House in Washington, DC, on September 12, 2018. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

The Iran agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers, and Iran, lifted most US and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.

Trump withdrew the US from the landmark nuclear agreement forged under predecessor Barack Obama, saying it was “defective” and unable to rein in Iranian behavior or halt the Islamic Republic’s quest to develop nuclear weapons.

He also reimposed some sanctions and emphasized that they would also apply to other nations that did business with Iran.

Trump has attacked Kerry in the past for reportedly meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to try to salvage the deal. In May, Trump tweeted: “John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!”

Last week he took a swipe at Kerry after the former secretary of state did not rule out a 2020 Democratic presidential bid.

Trump tweeted: “I see that John Kerry, the father of the now terminated Iran deal, is thinking of running for President. I should only be so lucky — although the field that is currently assembling looks really good — FOR ME!”

Kerry was asked on CBS Sunday if he would run in 2020 and did not rule it out. He said that he was “really not thinking about it” and said “what we need to do is focus on 2018.”

Kerry was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, but lost to incumbent President George W. Bush.

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