Express.co.uk – ISRAEL’s intelligence community was reported to be “struck dumb for two days” after President Donald Trump suggested on Monday to meet Iran’s leader Hassan Rouhani without preconditions.
The American firebrand’s proposition comes just a week after threatening the Middle Eastern nation in a fiery tweet.
DEBKAfile, Israel’s military intelligence website, said its community was caught by surprise by the offer, but also reported an assurance from “a senior US official” that “there is no change in the tough policy against Iran”.
However, according to the website, the gesture of President Trump raises many questions, one of which is whether the Trump administration has kept Israel informed of its change in policy.
It reads: “Israel’s diplomatic and intelligence eyes and ears missed what was going on, because they took it for granted that the Trump administration would not embrace an initiative as far-reaching as this without letting Jerusalem know.
“Negotiations inevitably lead the parties concerned into policy changes for the sake of reaching common ground. So what will the American side cede for an accord?”
Regardless Israel’s concerns that Trump may seek to mend ties with Tehran, the US leader’s proposition was rejected by a series of Iranian officials, including Ali Motahari, the deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament.
Speaking to the Official Islamic Republic News Agency, he said: “Today, negotiations with the US bring humiliation.
“For now, it’s not appropriate to talk to the US.
“If Trump had not withdrawn from the nuclear deal and not imposed sanctions on Iran, there would be no problem with negotiations with America.”
Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, chairman of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, added: “As long as the Americans bring up negotiations with a force.”
President Rouhani has also taken an increasingly hard-line stance in response to the US’s reimplementation of sanctions, which have caused economic damage to the country.
President Rouhani threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if renewed US sanctions strangle Iran’s oil sales.
But President Trump responded defiantly in a tweet last week, stating: “To Iranian President Rouhani: Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before.
“We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious!”
Trump’s offer of holding a meeting without preconditions contradicts statements made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said on CNBC on Monday that preconditions did exist before a meeting could take place.