Zarif Rejected Trump’s Invitation to WH: It Would End with no More than A Photo Op

By Staff, The New Yorker

The New Yorker reported Friday that the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was invited to meet US President Donald Trump in the White House last month.

American and Iranian sources and a well-informed diplomat told the magazine that “the invitation was extended, reportedly with Trump’s blessing, by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at a meeting with the Iranian diplomat in New York on July 15.”

On July 14, Paul met with Trump for discussions on Iran while playing a round of golf.

“With President Trump’s blessing, Paul had been working on the idea for several weeks, in consultation with the White House and the State Department,” the New Yorker mentioned.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment about the invitation on the record to the New Yorker.

According to the report, an intermediary reached out to the Iranians on Paul’s behalf before Zarif arrived in New York for meetings at the United Nations.

At the meeting between Zarif and Paul, the two discussed the recent flare-up of tensions in the Gulf as well as the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program and the 2015 pact.

According to the report, Zarif offered Paul advice on ending the stalemate over the nuclear deal as well as how to address some of Trump’s concerns.

One idea was that Iran could legislate a 2003 and 2010 fatwa issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei forbidding both the production and use of nuclear weapons.

Zarif also reportedly suggested Iran could advance ratification of the Additional Protocol, which allows inspectors “to conduct complementary access to any location in Iran.”

Paul proposed that the Iranian diplomat lay out the same ideas to Trump in person. Trump, Paul said, had authorized him to extend an invitation to meet in the Oval Office as early as that week.”

According to the report, “After his meeting with Paul, Zarif relayed the overture to Iran’s leaders. They did not approve a meeting—at this time. Rouhani is due to attend the UN General Assembly next month.”

He expressed concern that any meeting might end up as little more than a photo op, without substance, the sources told me.

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