EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Message to Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv: Not to worry. US President Donald J. Trump has no intention of unconditionally meeting his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani. On the contrary: Trump’s surprise announcement that he is willing to talk to Rouhani is likely part of a plan formulated almost a year ago by National Security Advisor John R. Bolton before he returned to government service.
President Donald Trump’s announcement that he is willing to meet unconditionally with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took many by surprise. It threatened to reinforce the impression, even among America’s closest friends in the Middle East, that Trump is a supportive but unpredictable and unreliable ally.
His offer to talk to Rouhani appeared to put in doubt his withdrawal in May from the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program and reimposition of harsh economic sanctions aimed at destabilizing, if not toppling, Iran’s government.
John Bolton’s plan suggests otherwise.