President Donald Trump discussed easing sanctions on Iran to help secure a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later this month, prompting then-National Security Advisor John Bolton to argue forcefully against such a step, according to three people familiar with the matter.
After an Oval Office meeting on Monday when the idea came up, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin voiced his support for the move as a way to restart negotiations with Iran, some of the people said. Later in the day, Trump decided to oust Bolton, whose departure was announced Tuesday.
The White House has started preparations for Trump to meet with Rouhani this month in New York on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly the week of Sept. 23, according to the people. It’s far from clear if the Iranians would agree to talks while tough American sanctions remain in place.
Trump told reporters at the White House that he’s “not looking at anything” with regard to a meeting with Rouhani, but indicated he may consider easing sanctions on Tehran to make it happen. “We’ll see what happens,” he said after he was asked about backing off the sanctions, adding that he does not desire “regime change” in Iran. [Continue reading…]