Shortly after US President Donald Trump made a speech highly critical of Iran at the United Nations, his administration inquired whether his Iranian counterpart would meet Trump in New York, a request rebuffed by President Hassan Rouhani, according to a report.
Several administration and foreign officials confirmed to The Washington Post that following Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly on September 19, the administration asked the French president to convey the request to President Rouhani.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was also in New York, passed on the message to President Emmanuel Macron, according to the Post.
Iran’s response was “an unequivocal no,” the report said.
Before Tillerson’s request, Trump had already floated the general idea of using France to reach out to Iran, one senior administration official said.
“You guys have good relations” with Iran, Trump told Macron, the official said. “Could you use your relations” to ask if Rouhani was interested in a meeting, the official said, quoting the US president.
The report came days after the White House denied that the administration had asked to meet with Rouhani last month but was turned down.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi told a press conference on Sunday that “a request indeed was made by the US side but it wasn’t accepted by President Rouhani.”
“There seems little room for negotiation on the issues that divide the United States and Iran. Trump has said he wants to rewrite or ‘terminate’ the Iran nuclear agreement; Iran and other signatories have flatly refused. He has demanded that Iran cease its ballistic missile development, which Iran says it is legally entitled to carry out,” the Post said in its report.
During his Sept. 19 speech, Trump lashed out at Iran, calling the Islamic Republic a “murderous regime” focused on the “pursuit of death and destruction.” Trump also said the international nuclear agreement with Iran – which he later “decertified” in a report to Congress — was an “embarrassment” for the United States.
In his own speech at the UN the following day, President Rouhani denounced the “ignorant” rhetoric of “rogue newcomers to the world of politics.”
“By reneging on its promises and violating international obligations, the new US administration will only discredit itself globally and lose the trust of governments and nations in any future negotiations and commitments,” Rouhani said.
The Iranian president also reminded the UN that the 2015 nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was an international agreement backed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Macron also took the podium the same day and defended the Iran agreement. “This is a good agreement, an agreement that’s essential to peace,” the French president said, warning that a failure to honor the accord would be “irresponsible.”