update: Iran's PressTV reports that leaders in Tehran have rejected French President Macron's offer to mediate new negotiations with the US over the Islamic Republic's missile program, saying this is "non-negotiable".
Macron and Trump both appeared optimistic at a closing G7 summit press conference that such a direct meeting with Iran's President Rouhani could happen "within weeks". Though The Washington Post hours after those statements cited a source saying Rouhani was "open" to such renewed talks, it now appears Iran has slammed the door shut.
PressTV cited a government source who said Iranian officials had already informed Macron that "new negotiations" - especially direct talks with Trump - remain contingent upon Washington returning to the nuclear deal, or JCPOA.
Reporter to Trump: Macron said he'd like to see talks between you and Rouhani within weeks. Does that seem realistic?— POLITICO (@politico) August 26, 2019
"It does," Trump replied. "I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out. Now is that based on fact or based on gut? It's based on gut" pic.twitter.com/gpKTQlJ6tk
However, there could be a small opening regarding Macron's idea of a $15BN credit line should Iran refrain from breaching uranium enrichment caps under the terms of the JCPOA:
Reacting to the French president’s idea of establishing a $15 billion credit line for Iran in a trade mechanism to help Tehran conduct business, the source told Press TV that Iran had responded by saying that it would consider reversing its decision to scale back some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal if the line is established.
Iran has vowed repeatedly that it would never bow to Washington pressures and threats, stressing that Trump's "talk with me or else..." ultimatum won't work.
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Speaking at the close of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France on Monday, President Trump said he's "open" to meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.
This was in response to French President Emmanuel Macron stating he hopes to arrange a meeting with the US and Iranian leaders in the "coming weeks". Trump qualified during his surprise remarks regarding a potential meeting, "If the circumstances were correct or right, I would certainly agree with that." Trump cited "good feelings" about Iran and its desire to escape currently escalating tensions.
"In the meantime they have to be good players," he added. Otherwise, he asserted, Iran will be met with “violent force.” Trump said the Iranians "have no choice".
NEW: Pres. Trump says he would meet with Iranian Pres. Rouhani "if the circumstances were correct."— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 26, 2019
"But in the meantime, they have to be good players." https://t.co/kEqS3Qsjtu pic.twitter.com/nGlAlnAiXc
It's not the first time the White House has invited Iran to the table following a summer of escalating "tanker wars" and boiling point tensions in the Persian Gulf, and amid a US military build-up in the region.
It was recently revealed that last month Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had rebuffed a secret invitation to meet with President Trump in the oval office, which involved the mediation of Rand Paul. Just days following this, the US Treasury announced unprecedented sanctions against the Iranian top diplomat.
FM Zarif had made a surprise arrival in Biarritz for talks at the French foreign ministry's invitation. However, there were no reported meetings or talks with American officials.
Reports suggest that Macron could currently be pressing Trump for a resumption of the Iran oil waiver program, which allowed up to eight countries such as China, India, Iraq and others to continue legal imports of Iranian crude without threat of US punishment. Both leaders sought to assure reporters that Macron had made Trump aware that Zarif would be present on the sidelines of the G7, and that they were strategizing together every step of the way.
When Trump was pressed at the G7 press conference over whether it was "realistic" to organize a meeting with Iran in only a matter of weeks, Trump responded "it does."
"I think he's going to want to meet. I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out. Is that based on fact or based on gut? That's based on gut," Trump said. "But they want to get this situation straightened out, Jonathan. They're really hurting badly."
Macron, for his part, also sounded optimistic that talks will happen: “So, I hope that in the next few weeks based on our discussions, we will be able to achieve the meeting that happen I just mentioned between president Rouhani and President Trump, myself and the partners who have a role to play in nuclear negotiations will also be fully involved in these negotiations,” the French president said.
But it remains the case that Iran has vowed repeatedly that it would never bow to Washington pressures and threats, and likely Tehran will read Trump's "talk with me or else..." style of rhetoric as precisely a continuation of the "maximum pressure" campaign that's currently in the process of destroying Iran's economy.