(Persia Digest) – An analyst of Iranian affairs in the US believes that a meeting between the presidents of Iran and the US under the present circumstances is not necessary and can hurt Rouhani domestically.
After weeks of raised hopes for a meeting between the Iranian and US presidents, the Houthi attack on Saudi oil facilities has escalated tensions between the two countries. The US has placed unequivocal blame on Iran, while Iran denies all involvement.
Yesterday, the Supreme Leader of Iran rejected all possibility of talks with the US on all levels. Earlier, President Rouhani had said there is a chance of talks if the US lifts all sanctions on Iran. Nevertheless, US President Donald Trump said yesterday he prefers not to meet his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the UNGA, but nothing is impossible.
These remarks indicate that Trump is much more willing to meet than his Iranian counterpart. But, in an interview conducted by Persia Digest (PD), with Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, she deemed this meeting as unnecessary, saying: "It is not necessary and probably would not be helpful for them to meet absent a great deal of diplomatic preparation."
In answer to the question of whether Rouhani and Trump will actually meet on the sidelines of the UNGA, she answered: "No. Iran has made it clear that it will not hold bilateral negotiations with the United States and will only meet in a multilateral setting if the US returns to the JCPOA and lifts sanctions."
Barbara even considers such as meeting for Iran as damaging: "It would be a photo op and it would hurt Rouhani domestically."
Barbara Slavin is a critic of Trump’s approach towards Iran and believes that his biggest mistake was leaving the 2015 JCPOA nuclear accord: "Trump should never have quit the JCPOA unilaterally and he should not have sought to impose a total embargo on Iranian oil exports. His actions have only made Iran more provocative and have pushed Tehran into the arms of Moscow and Beijing."
While tensions were expected to de-escalate following the G7 meeting and Bolton leaving the White House, with a window to diplomacy, it remains to be seen what the two sides will say in their speeches at the UN General Assembly and its outcome.
Barbara Slavin is an American journalist and foreign policy expert. She is a Washington correspondent for Al Monitor and acting director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center. She is the author of the book "Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation."
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