Donald Trump prepared to talk to Iran but says always a chance of military action

Reuters London Jun 05, 2019, 01.49 PM(IST)

File photo of Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Trump told British television station ITV that  Iran is a place that was extremely hostile when he first came into office.

US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to talk to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani but that there was always a chance of US military action against the Islamic Republic.

"So Iran is a place that was extremely hostile when I first came into office," Trump told British television station ITV. "They were a terrorist nation number one in the world at that time and probably maybe are today." 

When asked if he thought he would need to take military action, he said: "There`s always a chance. Do I want to? No. I`d rather not. But there`s always a chance."

He said when asked, that he was prepared to talk to Rouhani, "Yeah of course. I would much rather talk." 

This comes after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that Tehran would not be "deceived" by US President Donald Trump’s offer of negotiations and would not give up its missile programme.

Watch: 'If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran': Donald Trump

Iran and the United States have been drawn into starker confrontation in the past month, a year after Washington pulled out of a deal between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting international sanctions.

Trump has condemned the nuclear deal, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile programme and its role in conflicts around the Middle East. He has called on Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal.

Trump said last week that Iran "has a chance to be a great country, with the same leadership. We’re not looking for regime change. I just want to make that clear. We’re looking for no nuclear weapons."

Reacting to those comments, Khamenei said in a speech broadcast on state television, "The US president recently said Iran can achieve development with its current leaders. That means they do not seek regime change ... But this political trick will not deceive Iranian officials and the Iranian nation."

"In the missile programme, they know we have reached a point of deterrence and stability. They want to deprive us from it, but they will never succeed," Khamenei said, speaking at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Khamenei said US sanctions have created hardship for Iranians and called on the government to make improving economic conditions its top priority.