In a speech to world leaders he delivered at the United Nations on Tuesday, President Donald Trump appeared to change his rhetoric and extend an olive branch to Iran, although he again issued a threat of sanctions if Iran refuses to change course.
His comments came amid a push by several U.S. allies for the Trump administration to begin negotiations with Tehran.
“No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s blood lust. As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened,” Trump said during his speech to the General Assembly, adding, however, that “the United States has never believed in permanent enemies” and that many of its greatest allies today were once enemies.
Later that day, President Trump said that Tehran “would like to negotiate” but added that they “haven’t really worked that out. They’re here. We’re here … it certainly makes sense, but we haven’t agreed to that yet,” CNN reports.
However, Trump’s speech and the possibility of engaging in dialogue with Iran to ease tensions in the region were overshadowed by House Democrats’ will to open an impeachment inquiry.
“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!” the President tweeted.
On Monday, Iran had likewise demonstrated willingness to negotiate with the U.S. But according to Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran’s openness to negotiations could be just an attempt to avoid further sanctions under the premise that if they are engaged in talks with President Trump, he would be unwilling to impose additional sanction on the country.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if the Iranians try to get a last-minute negotiation,” Dubowitz said, drawing a comparison to the situation with North Korea. “They could pull a Kim Jong-un on him, use the diplomacy to undermine the sanctions on the assumption that Trump is unlikely to escalate further if he’s talking to Iran.”
But despite expressing such sentiment, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, will not meet with Trump at the sidelines of the UN meeting.