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Iran: Rouhani-Trump Talks Did Not Happen Because of Sanctions Relief Demand

2 MINS READOct 2, 2019 | 16:35 GMT

What Happened: U.S. President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had agreed to a French-proposed four-point plan that would have seen talks between the two leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September, but the meeting did not happen because Rouhani insisted Trump lift sanctions first, Politico reported Oct. 2. The plan's points provided that Iran would agree to never acquire a nuclear weapon; for new negotiations on a long-term deal/framework on its nuclear program; that Iran would refrain from regional aggression and seek regional peace through negotiations; and that the United States would lift all sanctions imposed since 2017. Rouhani later said that the deal "could be acceptable."

Why It Matters: Rouhani's comments indicate talks are possible, but if and only if the United States is willing to make some promises of immediate sanctions relief.

Context: After summer tensions brought Iran and the United States to the brink of war, the White House is now attempting a diplomatic opening with Tehran. For both sides to avoid another impasse, however, Trump would have to go against his instincts and relent on sanctions pressure in return for de-escalation. If this does not happen, Iran could apply the lessons from the summer and use military threats to break the stalemate.

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