Sputnik caught up with Professor of international relations at Durham University, Anoush Ehteshami, to find out whether such a summit is at all likely.
Sputnik: So President Trump has said that he is open to talks with Iran’s leaders “without preconditions” – to begin with, is there a likelihood that such a meeting could happen?
But also, it’s unclear with whom he wants to meet; president Rouhani or leader Khamenei? Those are very different personalities with different outlooks and positions and also different responsibilities within the state.
Sputnik: Even if such a meeting were to happen, how likely is it that Tehran would comply with Washington’s demands, like ceasing much of its regional activities, for example?
So, you know if this is to provide fog over the details then I think the Iranians will be happy to go along with that, so long as they don’t have to compromise on many of the issues that ironically they’ve had to compromise on within the nuclear deal which is currently in force thanks to the EU, Russia and China.
Sputnik: Some might say that considering Iran’s economy is now hitting dire straits and the US-imposed sanctions are only going to get tougher from here, is it likely that, eventually, Iran will have no choice but to sit down at the negotiating table with Washington?
Anoush Ehteshami: I’ve been arguing for some time that they have to be much less intransigent and highfalutin in their foreign policy and see the world as it is, rather than how they imagine it to be. And for all of the disdain and dislike of the Americans, and this president in particular, frankly you’ve got to deal with the world that you’ve been given.
It’s foolhardy of Iranian leaders to refuse to meet with President Trump or with members of his team because that distance merely fuels suspicion in the United States and merely eggs on the more right-wing elements in the administration to isolate Tehran and to mount pressure which is already growing on it.
Russia, China and the EU have all offered their good offices to try and facilitate a dialogue on a wide range of issues. The other problem that I had with presdient Trump’ statement of this unconditional dialogue; that means nothing to Tehran.
Actually for Tehran if things are itemised the better because they can then draw some sort of a domestic consensus about which they can talk to the Americans about. This kind of a blanket approach worries then even more than the specific targeted approach, which ironically the list of 12 seems to suggest.
The views and opinions expressed by Anoush Ehteshami do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.