National Security

Iran Claims Trump Tried to Meet With Top Leaders Eight Times

Meetings rejected by Islamic Republic

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed on Thursday that President Donald Trump requested no fewer than eight meetings with Iranian leaders, all of which were rejected.

Rouhani, in remarks to Iranian leaders, said that Trump made at least eight separate requests for a meeting while Rouhani was in New York City in 2017 for United Nations meetings. Rouhani said he rejected the requests.

Rejecting these meetings is part of Iran's plan for total "resistance" to U.S. policies on the Middle East and toward the Islamic Republic.

"Today, we do not have any way but resistance," Rouhani was quoted as saying in the country's state-controlled press. "During the 2017 visit to New York, the U.S. administration demanded eight times for meeting with the U.S. president and in the year 2018, five world leaders mediated for this meeting."

"I told them that conditions and time are not appropriate," Rouhani said, adding that "the U.S. should first return to the nuclear deal and admit their mistake."

"They are after negotiations," Rouhani continued. "We do not escape from negotiations either, and are associated with negotiation. Since I am specialized in negotiations, I powerfully say that we do not fear the negotiating table and our logic is so much stronger and framed that we can stand against the U.S. [officials] or any other individuals."

Iranian officials have also claimed in recent weeks that Trump and his administration again attempted to broker a back channel to the Islamic Republic just last month.

Amir Moussavi, a former Iranian diplomat, was quoted in regional reports saying that the Trump administration is angling to provide more waivers to countries purchasing Iranian crude oil exempting them from harsh U.S. sanctions.

The issue of oil waivers has emerged as a flashpoint between the Trump administration and congressional Iran hawks, who see additional waivers as a further capitulation to Iran.

"The U.S. is not so much serious in the current sanctions given the waivers granted to certain countries … and it is trying to make a communication bridge to Iran," Amir Moussavi was quoted as telling the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel.

"Based on information I have, a message was sent from Washington [via mediators] for direct talks with Mr. Rouhani," Moussavi claimed. "Even Mr. Trump has voiced readiness to visit Tehran."

Iran again rejected this request, he said.

The meetings were to be brokered by at least two European nations and two Arab countries, according to Moussavi's remarks. It is said that Trump's son-in-law and Middle East peace envoy Jared Kushner also made a request for meetings with Tehran.

"Iran's most important condition is that Trump should return to the nuclear deal from which it has withdrawn. Iran has sent this message to Washington via mediators," Moussavi said.

A senior Trump administration official did not dispute the Iranian leaders comments, telling the Washington Free Beacon Trump has been open about his willingness and desire to meet with Iran to renegotiate the landmark nuclear agreement.

"President Trump has spoken previously about his willingness to meet with the leadership of Iran to discuss the 12 conditions Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo laid out after the president’s historic decision to cease participation in the horrible, one-sided Iran nuclear deal," said the official, speaking only on background.

Update 3:31 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from a Trump administration official.