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PoliticsAP FACT CHECK: Trump contradicts aides, self on Iran talks

00:25  17 september  2019
00:25  17 september  2019 Source:   msn.com

Trump says he will hit Iran with new sanctions over Saudi oil attack

Trump says he will hit Iran with new sanctions over Saudi oil attack Trump's administration already slapped Iran with crippling sanctions aimed at driving the country’s oil exports to zero and choking Tehran’s economy. The goal, administration officials say, is to force Iran back to the negotiating table after Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal last year. Trump said that deal was not restrictive enough and he wants a new agreement that would limit Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism in the region. I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!— Donald J.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's one of the most commonly heard phrases around the White House as aides seek to explain Donald Trump's thinking: "The president has made clear that ..."

AP FACT CHECK: Trump contradicts aides, self on Iran talks© Provided by The Associated Press Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin laugh as they speak with reporters in the briefing room of the White House during a briefing on terrorism financing Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

But saying so doesn't make it so. And on the question of a theoretical meeting between U.S. and Iranian leaders, it's not clear at all.

On Sunday, Trump flatly contradicted top aides who had characterized his thinking on Iran last week, before a weekend attack claimed by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia; Iran denied responsibility. Trump also contradicted his own remarks.

Iran warns U.S. of ‘broad’ retaliation in case of any attack

Iran warns U.S. of ‘broad’ retaliation in case of any attack Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is headed to Saudi Arabia to discuss the brewing crisis.

TRUMP tweet: "The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, 'No Conditions.' That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)."

THE FACTS: Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the White House that Trump said he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without setting any conditions first. Often, top-level diplomacy between adversaries only proceeds after both sides agree to take a few steps to ease tensions.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump contradicts aides, self on Iran talks© Provided by The Associated Press Vice President Mike Pence leaves the White House, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, after a meeting in Washington. Senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, were seen at the White House Sunday afternoon for a National Security Council meeting on a Saturday attack on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure that the U.S. has attributed to Iran. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The aides were echoing Trump's own words. Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" in June whether he'd set any conditions for meeting Iranian leadership, Trump replied: "Not as far as I'm concerned. No preconditions."

Iran seizes boat in Strait of Hormuz, arrests Filipinos: report

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And Trump told reporters in July 2018 that it would be good for both countries if the leaders talked: "No preconditions. If they wanna meet, I'll meet."

Trump explained Monday that sanctions won't be taken off Iran as a requirement for talks, and that's what he meant when he declared "no preconditions." But the absence of preconditions cuts both ways. It also means, for example, that Iran's behavior — with its nuclear program or with hostile actions against other states in the region — do not need to be checked for Trump and Iran's leadership to come to the table.

Here's the White House transcript of the exchange with Pompeo and Mnuchin last Tuesday as they joined in a briefing to discuss terrorism sanctions:

MNUCHIN: "I would say Secretary Pompeo and myself and the president are completely aligned on our maximum pressure campaign. I think you know we've done more sanctions on Iran than anybody. And it's absolutely working. Now, the president has made clear he is happy to take a meeting with no preconditions, but we are maintaining the maximum pressure campaign."

Trump’s National Security Aides to Meet on Possible Iran Options

  Trump’s National Security Aides to Meet on Possible Iran Options Senior national security officials from across the government are scheduled to meet Thursday to refine a list of potential targets to strike in Iran, should President Trump order a military retaliation for missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields last weekend, officials said. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are to present the updated options to Mr. Trump at a National Security Council meeting scheduled for Friday, a senior American official said.Sign Up For the Morning Briefing NewsletterIn advance of being presented with the newest set of options, Mr.

Q: So, Secretary Pompeo, for clarity on this, can you foresee a meeting between President Trump and the Iranian leader later this month surrounding the United Nations?"

POMPEO: "Sure."

Q: "Would the president support that, and do you support that actively?"

POMPEO: "The president has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions."

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Hard-Liners in Iran See No Drawback to Bellicose Strategy.
President Trump appeared to be softening toward Iran. He had broken with his administration’s leading advocate of confrontation, signaled a willingness to meet personally with his Iranian counterpart, and reportedly considered relaxing some sanctions. But Iran, American officials say, responded with violence. 

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