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Iranian President Demands U.S. Drop Sanctions as Precondition for Talks

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference in New York, September 26, 2018. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday threw cold water on hope for talks with the U.S., saying Iran will not participate unless the Trump administration removes crippling economic sanctions.

“Without the U.S.’s withdrawal from sanctions, we will not witness any positive development,” Iran’s president said. “If someone intends to make it as just a photo op with Rouhani, that is not possible.”

Rouhani struck a more positive note on Monday, saying he would be willing to give even negotiations with a slim chance of success a go.

“If I knew that going to a meeting and visiting a person would help my country’s development and resolve the problems of the people, I would not miss it,” Rouhani said. “Even if the odds of success are not 90 percent but are 20 percent or 10 percent, we must move ahead with it.”

French president Emmanuel Macron attempted to arrange a meeting between President Trump and Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif during the annual G-7 summit this week in Biarritz, France, but Trump opted out, saying it was “too soon.”

Trump later expressed his willingness to meet with Iranian officials, agreeing that a meeting in the coming weeks could be realistic.

“I think there is a really good chance we would meet,” Trump said. “If the circumstances were correct or right I would certainly agree to that.”

“I want this meeting to happen, and I want there to be an agreement between the United States and Iran,” Macron said Monday.

Negotiations with Iran have been on thin ice since the Trump administration announced in May 2018 that the U.S. would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, which provided Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for a promise to curb its nuclear ambitions.

U.S. officials said Iran tested a medium-range ballistic missile last month, but the test did not threaten U.S. bases.

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