“Trump asked the Iranian delegation eight times to have a meeting with the president,” Mahmoud Vaezi told reporters, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported Thursday.
In October, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said that the Trump administration had requested a meeting but that the Iranian delegation had refused, according to the news agency. However, the alleged insistence by the Trump administration to hold a face-to-face sit-down was not previously reported.
Responding a request for comment, the U.S. delegation to the U.N. referred Newsweek to the White House. The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Vaezi said that Iran maintains a “clear position” with respect to the U.S. He added that the current Iranian administration and the Iranian people “will not yield to pressure.” The presidential aide also took a dig at North Korea, saying that “Trump should know that Iran and its people are different from” the Asian nation.
Trump has long been a staunch critic of Iran and frequently condemned the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In May, the president announced that the U.S. would officially withdraw from the agreement, which was signed with Iran and five other world powers. Following Trump’s decision, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised to implement the “strongest sanctions in history” against Tehran.
Earlier this month, Trump said that he expects Iran will feel the impact of the sanctions and call him to make a new deal. However, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday that Trump will have to “initiate” any call himself. Previously, Iran said it would negotiate only with the other signatories.
Some analysts suggest that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has instituted a hard-line policy of no engagement with Washington under the Trump administration. Iranian leaders remain deeply distrustful of Western nations, particularly the U.S. Tensions have increased since Trump’s election, especially following the withdrawal from JCPOA and the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.
“The biggest obstacle to a U.S.-Iran dialogue is not Trump but Khamenei,” Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The New York Times. “Trump flew halfway around the world to meet with Kim Jong Un. Khamenei hasn’t left Iran since 1989.”
Saeid Golkar, a senior fellow on Iran policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, wrote for Al Jazeera earlier this month and said it would “delegitimize” Khamenei’s “domestic rhetoric” and “push away supporters at home and abroad” if he chose to negotiate directly.
“The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal was the ultimate proof he needed for his claim that Washington could not be trusted,” Golkar wrote.