Before somebody decided to sabotage “the most important piece of real estate on the planet” over the weekend, it looked as though Donald Trump was angling to secure a meeting with Hassan Rouhani later this month.
The behind-the-scenes effort at rapprochement reportedly culminated in an Oval Office meeting earlier this month during which an easing of sanctions on Iran was discussed, much to the chagrin of John Bolton, who tendered his resignation a day later.
Late last month, in a post-G-7 press conference with Emmanuel Macron, Trump indicated he’d be open to meeting with Rouhani under the right circumstances, although that came with the obligatory caveat about being equally open to wiping Iran off the face of the planet.
Mike Pompeo reiterated the president’s openness to dialogue during last week’s bizarre Q&A with reporters following Bolton’s unceremonious ouster.
Rouhani himself as generally played down the idea on the assumption the US president is just looking for a photo op. “If someone wants to have their photo taken with Hassan Rouhani, it’s not possible”, he reportedly said on August 27. “It’s possible to do it with Photoshop”, he quipped.
Well, according to the only person whose opinion actually matters, no negotiations of any kind will be taking place.
“There will be no talks with the US at any level”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared on Tuesday.
“Sometimes they say negotiations without any precondition and sometimes with 12 conditions”, Khamenei said, adding that “such statements either come from their disheveled policies or are a ploy to confuse the other side”.
Spoiler alert: It’s disheveled policies. As usual, there’s no “3-D chess” going on here. There’s no “art” to this (non)”deal”.
Khamenei was referring to the Trump administration’s schizophrenic messaging. In the same back-and-forth with reporters following Bolton’s dismissal, both Pompeo and Mnuchin explicitly said Trump would meet with no preconditions. Here’s the clip:
Trump subsequently made things a lot less “clear”, though.
“Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions’ That is an incorrect statement as usual!”, he shrieked, on Sunday.
We suppose that means Pompeo and Mnuchin are part of the “Fake News” now, which, ironically, would be an accurate way to describe the not-so-dynamic duo.
But it’s not just the cabinet (and Khamenei) who are confused about Trump’s position. Have a listen to what the president told Chuck Todd back in June during the interview that followed the downing of a US drone.
“No preconditions”?, Todd asked. “Not as far as I’m concerned”, Trump responded.
You’ll forgive Khamenei for lampooning this administration.