Trump may ease Iran sanctions for summit

The US could ease sanctions on Iran to ensure a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

US President Donald Trump has not ruled out relaxing sanctions on Iran in the coming weeks, amid rumours that he is planning to ease those restrictions to clear the way for a summit this month with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.

"We'll see what happens," Trump responded to reporters on Wednesday in the Oval Office when asked about the possibility that the White House might ease the sanctions on Tehran.

Trump reacted to a press report saying that he broached the idea of easing sanctions on Monday to convince Rouhani to meet with him in late September during the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin allegedly backed the idea, but former National Security Adviser John Bolton was categorically against it, something that may have contributed to Trump's decision to ask for his resignation that same evening, according to the report.

Trump did not confirm those details and avoided appearing too eager to see Rouhani in New York, but he insisted that he thinks that the Iranians want to make a deal with Washington to relax bilateral tensions and that the US is not seeking "regime change" in Iran.

Trump said that Iran has enormous financial difficulties, adding that he feels that there is much potential for them to prosper if they negotiate with the US.

Bolton was a hardline defender of Washington's maximum pressure campaign against Tehran and had openly lobbied for regime change there, although that stance was not in accord with Trump's desire to engage in some kind of personal dialogue with Rouhani.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Wednesday hailed Bolton's departure and expressed opinion that with the departure of the "symbol of America's hawkish policies and its animosity toward Iran" the White House will have fewer obstacles toward understanding Iran's point of view.

However, the Iranian representative to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, said that Iran continues to oppose a meeting between Rouhani and Trump, stating that "As long as the US government's economic terrorism and such cruel sanctions are imposed on the Iranian people, there is no room for negotiations".