I almost met Trump, says former Iranian president Rouhani

Rouhani says he canceled the meeting because “it was clear to me that Trump is an actor.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said that he nearly met with then-president Donald Trump in October 2019, but shelved the idea after the White House said it would publicize the event ahead of time.

Rouhani recounted the alleged near-meeting in his recently released autobiography, Without Smoke, Fire, And Blood.

Easing crippling U.S. sanctions on Iran, which began after Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, was Rouhani’s first priority.

Despite the objection of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani said he was ready to meet with Trump to seek economic relief for Iran.

Rouhani said that the White House’s insistence on publicizing the meeting before it took place was the reason that introduction was eventually scrapped.

“It was clear to me that Trump is an actor,” Rouhani wrote, according to an excerpt of the book translated by Radio Free Europe.

“He was not a normal person. Every moment he was playing a role, and he did it capably. My concern was that if they announced the news [beforehand] the game would be ruined. We said: first the meeting, then the news.”

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During Trump’s time in office, an additional set of sanctions was levied against Iran in late 2019 – a move which Rouhani claims was aimed at punishing him for refusing to meet.

“In the end, we concluded that it was impossible to have a frank and honest conversation with Trump as equals,” Rouhani wrote.

“We had to trust the American president, which was a very difficult thing to do. Perhaps if the Americans had a different president, this could have been done and over with,” he wrote.

According to Radio Free Europe, Rouhani told Iranian news outlet Jamaran that if former president Barack Obama had offered to meet him, “I would definitely have gone to that meeting.”