Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the United States should “bow down before the Iranian people” in a speech this week.
Rouhani also indicated that he would not meet with President Donald Trump unless there was “repentance” on the part of the United States.
“Those who have imposed sanctions on our people, and have carried out economic terrorism—any change in our conduct toward them must start with their repentance,” Rouhani said on Aug. 27, according to a translation from Arabic from the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“They must return to their obligations, and change the erroneous path they have chosen. They must act in the service of the world’s interests and security, while maintaining respect for the other. They must recognize our revolution, our regime, and the rights of our people, and they must reject their mistakes. With regard to the relations between Iran and America—unless America gives up the sanctions and rejects the erroneous path it has chosen, we will see no positive change.”
Rouhani then seemed to allude to a possible meeting with President Donald Trump.
“If you lift all the sanctions and bow down before the Iranian people, the circumstances will be different. We want to resolve the issues and problems in a reasonable manner, but we are not interested in photo-ops. If someone wants to have his photo taken with Hassan Rouhani—well, that’s impossible. It can be done with Photoshop, but a real photo is impossible, unless one day they lift all their unjust sanctions, and respect the rights of the Iranian people. Then we would be talking about new circumstances, and we could reconsider it.”
Iran has become increasingly isolated under sanctions from the Trump administration, which broke off a nuclear deal reached by former President Barack Obama that the administration said was insufficient. The tension ramped up in June when Iran shot down an American drone, but Trump said he pulled back a military response because of concerns it would have hurt innocent people.
Observers were stunned when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif appeared at the G-7 summit in France over the weekend. Zarif met with French President Emmanuel Macron before continuing to China to meet with officials there.
Trump said that Macron asked him ahead of time if Zarif could attend and Trump agreed.
“I’m looking to have a really good Iran, really strong,” Trump told reporters. at the summit. “We’re not looking for regime change. You’ve seen how that works over the last 20 years. That hasn’t been too good. And we’re looking to make Iran rich again. Let them be rich. Let’s let them do well, if they want, or they can be poor as can be. They can be like they are now.”
“And I’ll tell you what: I don’t think it’s acceptable, the way they’re being forced to live in Iran. And what we want … it’s got to be non-nuclear. It’s got to be non-nuclear.”
He then indicated that he might meet with top Iranian officials soon.
“It’s soon going to be time to meet with Iran, and it’s going to be a great thing for Iran. They have great potential,” Trump later said.
“Iran has a chance to really build themselves up and be a very great nation—greater than before. But they have to stop terrorism. That is your number one nation of terror. Now, not in the last year and a half, two years, because they can’t spend like they used to spend. They took President Obama’s $150 billion and they doled it out to terrorists all over the place. I think they’re going to change. I really do. I believe they have a chance to be a very special nation. I hope that’s true.”