WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump said he is not interested in a conflict with Iran
, and he hopes Tehran will respond to American restraint with a similar approach.
“I don’t want military conflict but we’ve offered to discuss things,” Trump said in the annual conference call for the High Holy Days with Jewish leaders from across the US on Friday. “I’ve shown great restraint and hope that Iran likewise chooses peace.”
The president opened the conversation by greeting everyone with “Shana Tova” and said his administration is committed to combat antisemitism.
“In the last two and a half years we’ve strengthened the everlasting friendship between the US and Israel,” he added. “I moved the embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which was something they were trying to do for 52 years.”
During his remarks, the president avoided the current political situation in Israel.
“We’re confronting an Iranian regime that chants ‘death to Israel,’” he continued. “As I said in my recent address to the UN, America will never tolerate antisemitic hate.
“Right now, Iran [is] doing very badly – a nation that is much different than it was when I became president,” he added, in a reference to his maximum pressure campaign. “I can’t tell you exactly what is going to be happening but we’re extraordinarily ready. It will work out. I can’t tell you exactly how or why, but it will work out because it always does – I have a tendency to work things out one way or the other.”
He added that “Iran has been a bad actor for a long period of time and we’re going to end that.”
Trump said a friend of his – whom he didn’t mention by name – told him that Israelis appreciate his actions.
“I asked him, ‘So, which was more important – bringing the Jerusalem [Embassy Act] into effect by having our embassy go to Jerusalem, thereby becoming the capital of Israel, or the [recognition of the] Golan Heights?’ I said, ‘Which of those two things, in your opinion, were more important – Jerusalem or the Golan Heights?’” the president told the participants. “And he said, ‘Neither. It’s what you have done to us with Iran.’ And I said, ‘You know, I never thought of it that way, but I probably happen to agree with you.’”
On Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US offered to drop all sanctions on Iran in exchange for new talks, Reuters reported. Later, Rouhani claimed he was the one that turned down the American offer.
Trump denied that the US has agreed to lift sanctions in exchange for opening negotiations on a new agreement between the sides, tweeting that “Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!”
He added that three European leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, “all insisted for the meeting to be held, saying that the US would lift all sanctions.
“But the problem here is that under sanctions and maximum pressure,” he continued, “even if we want to negotiate with the Americans within the framework of P5+1, nobody can predict about the end and upshot of the negotiation.”