August 2, 2018 | The Times of Israel Staff
Ask the Lord to help the U.S. find a way to bring a lasting peace to relations with Iran.
They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. (Jer 6:14)
Iran reacted skeptically Tuesday to U.S. President Donald Trump saying that he’s willing to negotiate with his Iranian counterpart “anytime,” but a former adviser to the country’s supreme leader said Tehran should not reject a sit-down out of hand.
Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a senior cleric and member of the influential Expediency Council, said Trump’s suggestion Monday that he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani should not be categorically rejected.
“It should be discussed in the Supreme National Security Council,” said Nategh Nouri, who is also a former aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nategh Nouri said “we have to contemplate” the gesture, but also cautioned “we should not rejoice over this offer and not get excited.”
“Trump may take advantage of this over-excitement,” he said, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. “It could be a test for us.”
The comment was a rare signal that Iran may be willing to negotiate with the US after a day that saw several other officials reject talks unless Trump rejoins the 2015 nuclear deal.
Trump withdrew from the landmark nuclear accord, meant to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, in May, saying it was too generous to Iran. He has vowed to ramp up sanctions until Iran radically changes its policies, including its support for the Syrian government and regional militant groups, something the country’s leaders have long refused to do.
Trump has also said, however, that as renewed sanctions kick in, he expected Iran would call and offer to return to the negotiating table, and that “we’re ready to make a real deal.”
On Monday he said he could meet with the Iranians with “no preconditions,” adding that “if they want to meet, I’ll meet anytime they want.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC on Monday that he was onboard with the president’s invitation, saying Trump “wants to meet with folks to solve problems.”…
“Iran is not a member of any of the multilateral gatherings so there are no plans for any engagement with Iran,” the official told reporters, according to the Reuters news agency.
Talks between senior US and Iranian officials were rare even during and after the nuclear deal was reached….
Britain, along with China, Germany, France, Russia, and the European Union, are negotiating with Iran on preserving the deal.
The Iranian leadership has previously ruled out one-on-one talks with Trump, following his decision to pull the United States out of the deal under which Iran was given relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program….
“Those who believe in dialogue as a method of resolving disputes in civilized societies should be committed to the means,” he said.
Even though Trump said there would be “no preconditions” to talks with Rouhani, he also continued to deride the 2015 nuclear accord, calling it a “waste of paper” Monday.
With the first U.S. sanctions due to come into effect next Monday, the economy in Iran has already been hit, giving rise to growing fears of prolonged economic suffering. Another round, covering other types of commerce, including oil purchases, goes into effect November 4…. (Excerpts from The Times of Israel)