WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is denying he previously offered to meet Iranian leaders without preconditions, despite a litany of instances in which he did just that.
Trump’s remarks come as tensions mount in the Middle East following an attack over the weekend on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Though it is unclear who is responsible, U.S. officials are looking to Iran. The attack has scuttled talk that Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could meet in New York next week at the United Nations.
“The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!),” Trump posted on Twitter on Sunday.
But the president has repeatedly said he would meet with Rouhani without requiring concessions in advance. His top aides were making that point as recently as last week. Those offers have been made in the context of renegotiating the nuclear agreement Tehran struck with world leaders in 2015 that Trump withdrew from last year.
Here are some examples of Trump and members of his administration extending the offer of a meeting.
July 30, 2018: Speaking to reporters in the East Room during a press conference, Trump’s remarks were clear: “No preconditions. No. If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want. Anytime they want. It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”
June 23, 2019: Speaking to NBC in an interview with Chuck Todd, Trump was asked directly whether he would seek preconditions before a meeting with the Iranians: “Not as far as I'm concerned. No pre-conditions.”
Sept. 10, 2019: Trump’s top aides have gotten the message. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House last week that the president’s position on a meeting is clear. “The president has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions,” Pompeo said during that briefing.
“Now, the president has made clear he is happy to take a meeting with no preconditions, but we are maintaining the maximum pressure campaign,” Mnuchin said.
Contributing: Michael Collins
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump says he didn't offer Iran meeting without preconditions. He did.