Trump’s shock meeting offer
DESPITE a fiery exchange of threats earlier this month, US President Donald Trump has said he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with "no preconditions."
Asked at a White House news conference whether he was willing to meet with the Iranian President, Mr Trump said: "I'd meet with anybody. I believe in meetings," especially in cases where war is at stake.
"I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don't know if they're ready yet.
Mr Trump said he would set "no preconditions," and, "If they want to meet, I'll meet, anytime they want."
The president already has held summits with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong-un and stressed that he's willing to meet with "anybody."
The shock announcement at a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte comes after a fiery exchange of threats between Iran and the US earlier this month.
On July 22, Mr Trump said in a tweet directed at Mr Rouhani: "NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!"
A few hours earlier, Mr Rouhani had addressed Mr Trump in a speech, saying that hostile US policies could lead to "the mother of all wars".
In May, Mr Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 international agreement designed to deny Tehran the ability to build nuclear agreements.
Since then Iran and other signatories have been working to find a way to salvage the agreement, even as the United States has begun reimposing some sanctions on Iran.
Mr Trump also warned in the press conference this morning that Iran must "never be allowed" to possess nuclear weapons.
He said a meeting would be the "appropriate thing to do," and would come neither from a position of strength nor weakness.
As for the continuing fallout from the Putin summit, Mr Trump stressed Monday that sanctions on Russia "will remain as is."
Mr Trump, at the press conference, also reiterated his weekend threat of a government shutdown if Congress does not meet his demands on border security measures and funding for a wall.
"I would have no problem doing a shutdown. It's time we had proper border security," Mr Trump said, as both he and Conte underscored the need for strong immigration enforcement.
"I'll always leave room for negotiation," Trump later added, when asked to clarify.
- with AP and Fox News