Trump says willing to meet Iran leaders without preconditions

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Donald Trump seemed to jettison threats of impending war with Iran on Monday, saying he was willing to meet the country's leaders without precondition, a dramatic about-face by the enigmatic USA president. "I believe in meetings", especially in cases where war is at stake, Trump said at a White House news conference when asked whether he was willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations said on Tuesday Tehran saw no worth in Trump's offer, made only a week after he warned Iran it risked dire consequences few had ever suffered in history if it made threats against Washington. Good for them. Good for us.

However, the other signers of the pact - Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany - are trying to salvage the nuclear deal, the future of which depends in large measure on guaranteeing the sale of Iranian crude.

No U.S. president has met with an Iranian leader since the Washington cut diplomatic relations with Tehran a year after the 1979 revolution that toppled the shah, a U.S. ally.

The overture marks a significant shift in tone and comes as Trump and the Iranians have been escalating their rhetoric following Trump's May withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear accord.

Mr Rouhani recently warned the USA that "war with Iran is the mother of all wars", prompting an all-caps retort from Mr Trump.

He says he wants a new deal that goes beyond limiting Iran's nuclear programme and includes curbs to its regional behaviour and missile programme.

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"Respect for the great nation of Iran, reduction in hostilities, United States returning to the nuclear deal..."

"There can be no negotiations with the Americans raising the issue of talks from the position of power", he was quoted as saying on the website of the Iranian parliament, calling Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal the "biggest blow to diplomacy".

Even though Trump on Monday said if Rouhani were to meet with him there would be "no preconditions", he also did not walk back from any of those earlier demands. "Until then, the sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course".

In spite of fierce verbal exchanges between Tehran and Washington in the recent weeks, Iranian authorities have kept the door to diplomacy open.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency quoted political adviser Hamid Aboutalebi as saying that for talks to happen, the US needs to rejoin the deal.

Economic hardship in Iran forced Khamenei to reluctantly back Rouhani's efforts in securing the 2015 nuclear deal.