U.S. Must Lift Sanctions Before Meeting for Direct Talks, Rouhani Says at G-7 Summit

President Hassan Rouhani seems to have abandoned the idea of meeting President Donald Trump, as he believes that the United States must first lift sanctions against Iran.

Trump said that “if the circumstances were correct or right” he and Rouhani could meet for direct talks, to which the Iranian leader said that he “wouldn’t miss it.”

According to NPR, by Tuesday, Rouhani’s initial enthusiasm appeared to have ebbed. Unless the U.S. ended economic sanctions on Iran, he said, any such meeting between the two leaders would be just a photo op and “that is not possible.”

The stalemate has likely disappointed French President Emmanuel Macron as he has been working on mending the relations between the U.S. and Iran, underlining that he was hopeful that the two leaders will hold a meeting in the “coming weeks.”

At the G-7 held in the southwestern coastal city of Biarritz, Macron invited Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and other Iranian diplomats to the summit’s venue as he employed a form of shuttle diplomacy between them and Trump to try to work out the details of a high-level face-to-face, according to The Associated Press.

The two sides have not had diplomatic relations since 1979. Trump last year unilaterally withdrew from an Obama-era international agreement that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

In recent months, Tehran has announced that it would cross limits imposed by the multi-national pact on the size and potency of its nuclear stockpile.

Tehran has also been blamed for attacks on commercial tankers in and around the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which much of the world’s oil transits.

In July after the U.K. seized an Iranian tanker thought to be carrying fuel to Syria in violation of international sanctions, Iran seized a British-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero.

The Iranian vessel was released earlier this month, but the British vessel is still being held.

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