US President Donald Trump says his administration is not looking for regime change in Iran and would rather sit down for talks, signaling a change of tone after a period of saber-rattling that saw him and other US officials threaten the Islamic Republic with war in hope of getting concessions.
“We’re not looking for regime change, we’re looking for no nuclear weapons,” Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo Monday, adding that he thinks “we’ll make a deal” with Tehran.
Ever since quitting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, Trump has used sanctions and political pressure to force Iran into the negotiating table for a new agreement, but to no avail.
The American president, who is on a visit to address trade differences with Tokyo, tried to use Shinzo’s good relations with Iran to find a way out of his self-made crisis.
He suggested earlier in the day that the Japanese premier could act as a mediator.
“I know that the prime minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.
“The prime minister’s already spoken to me about that and I do believe that Iran would like to talk. And if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also,” the US president added. “We’ll see what happens … nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.”
Trump’s call for talks came only days after he threatened “the official end of Iran” in a tweet, as tensions rose following the US deployment of an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to purportedly confront an alleged “Iranian threat.”
However, the war talk has lost much of its steam thanks to a measured response from Iranian officials, who have indicated that they are not looking for war but would not hesitate to defend themselves against one either.
Iran has also ruled out the possibility of talks with the US under the current circumstances, when Washington is openly seeking to cripple Iran’s economy and pressure its people by targeting the its oil exports.