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Talks, not threats, would be good for US and Iran: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2018-07-31 21:16
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US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House after signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, May 8, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

US President Donald Trump just made his ninth offer to meet leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, saying he would meet them "anytime they want", with "no preconditions".

Trump's previous eight offers were refused, and for most people it seems this one, too, is likely to meet the same fate, as it comes before Washington is due to reinstate sanctions on Iran next month.

Teheran has indicated it has no intention of taking part in "one-sided negotiations" while under threat, and said the United States would have to return to the nuclear deal and reduce hostilities before it would consider a meeting.

Despite the opposition he has faced at home, the US president is perfectly comfortable with seeking engagement with the leaders of states the US has long regarded as pariah states, he is even proud of it. But this about-face does require some nifty footwork to keep in step with, since it was just 10 days ago that he was threatening Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with "consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before" in an all-capital-letter tweet.

This was fittingly referred to as "fire and fury 2.0", as it was similar to Trump's threat to Democratic People's Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong-un, which Trump claims brought Kim to Singapore for talks.

So rather than being just posturing prior to the US midterm elections, as some have suggested, more likely than not Trump is sticking to what he regards as a highly effective formula — extending an olive branch while exerting "maximum pressure".

If that is the case, a meeting may not be beyond the realms of possibility. For just as he warned the US "war with Iran is the mother of all wars" earlier this month, Rouhani also stated "peace with Iran is the mother of all peace".

Since both parties have expressed a desire for peace, the only thing to be sorted out is how to achieve it — that means talking.

The two sides need to overcome the mistrust that has built up over the years — which has been exacerbated by Trump pulling the US out of the nuclear deal — and iron out their differences. They can only do that by exchanging views rather than threats.

Trump said of a potential meeting with Rouhani that it would be "good for them, good for us, and good for the world", it would certainly be a step toward easing the accumulating tensions between the US and Iran. The other parties to the nuclear agreement should encourage Washington and Teheran to get together as it really would be good to talk.

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