Reuters12.07.2018 | 16:00
Amid ‘Syria for Ukraine’ rumors, Trump says he is ‘unhappy’ with Russian control over Crimea – but blames Obama for itU.S. President Donald Trump addresses a news conference after a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, July 11, 2018AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he expects Iran “at some point” to ask the United States for a deal.Trump was taking questions at a press briefing on the second day of the NATO allies summit in Brussels.
When asked about Iran, Trump said the Iranians are “treating the U.S. with a lot more respect right now.
“Iran at some point will call me and ask for a deal, and we’ll make a deal,” he said. “They are feeling “a lot of pain right now,” he added.
In May, Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, saying he will reinstate economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Asked, “Does NATO help protect the U.S. from Russia?” Trump responded that NATO is a strong ally. He continued, “We go into meeting with Putin not looking for so much; we want to look for info on Syria and election meddling.”
Trump was also asked about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and whether he will bring it up during his meeting next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. In his response, Trump did not mention sanctions that were imposed by the United States on Russia following the annexation, but said, “President Obama allowed that to happen. The Russians then built a bridge to Crimea, and a submarine port.”
Trump said he cannot say what will happen next. But he is “not happy” about the annexation of Crimea.
Trump’s remarks come amid reports that Israel and Saudi Arabia pressured the U.S. to broker a deal with Russia, to trade U.S. sanctions relief on Russia for Moscow using its influence to remove Iranian troops from Syria.
The New Yorker reported Tuesday that shortly before the U.S. elections in 2016, the UAE’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, met with an American mediator and told him Putin might be interested in solving the Syrian crisis in exchange for an end to sanctions on Russia.
Israeli diplomatic sources told Haaretz Wednesday that Russia has been working to push Iran away from Israel’s border with Syria. While Russia is making this effort, Israel has avoided intervening and disrupting stabilizing efforts by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime as he retakes Syria’s south.
The sources said that while Iranian forces have not completely been ousted from the border area, Moscow is currently acting to advance the process.
Moscow has a clear interest in seeing the Syrian regime stabilized as well as distancing Iran from Israel’s border, the sources said. This attempt may coincide with Israeli interests, but it just might work, the sources said.
Also Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin in Moscow. “Our opinion is that Iran should leave Syria, this is not something new for you,” the prime minister told the Russian President.
On Thursday, Putin met in Moscow with Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The two discussed the situation in Syria and bilateral relations in a meeting in Moscow on Thursday, the Kremlin said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Velayati had passed messages from Khamenei and from Iran’s president to Putin.
“The messages touch on bilateral relations most notably,” Peskov said.