US Secretary of State, Pompeo says Trump is willing to talk to Rouhani

On Sunday (September 23), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left open the possibility that U.S. President Donald Trump would meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting but said that Iran’s “behavior wouldn’t indicate any intention to change the fundamental challenge that Iran presents to the world.”

The comments come as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley dismissed Iran’s assertion that Washington and its Gulf allies were to blame for Saturday’s (September 22) deadly parade attack that killed 25 people and said Tehran should look closer to home.

Top Iranian officials have blamed the United States and Gulf kingdoms for the bloodshed and threatening a tough response with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards vowing to wreak “deadly and unforgettable” vengeance for the attack, which killed 12 of their comrades.

Pompeo also said Washington does not rule out the use of military force to respond to the use of chemical or biological weapons. “We’ve sanctioned Russia for the chemical, biological weapons used in Skripal. The president is deadly serious to make sure that chemical weapons don’t become the norm in the way nations act around the world,” he said.

World leaders have begun arriving in New York for Tuesday’s (September 25) United Nations General Assembly meeting. One year after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in his first speech at the U.N., the U.S. president will return to the podium this week to tout diplomatic efforts that have reduced the risk of war.

Yet some U.S. officials and analysts say Pyongyang has yet to take concrete measures to show it is prepared to give up a nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States.

While declaring the developments in the Koreas summit sufficient to allow a restart of high-level talks with North Korea, Pompeo’s tone has been more measured, saying there was still work to do before a second summit and reiterated that sanctions would have to remain on North Korea until it gives up its nuclear weapons.

“We’ve got to set the right conditions but President Trump very much is prepared to meet with Chairman Kim at the right time,” he said. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for an unprecedented summit on June 12 in Singapore, and in the past week, the North Korean leader promised South Korean President Moon Jae-in to dismantle a missile site and also a nuclear complex – if the United States takes “corresponding action.”

While appearing to set a positive tone, the commitments fell far short of Washington’s demands for a complete inventory of North Korea’s weapons programs and irreversible steps towards denuclearization. Trump is to meet Moon on Monday to get a first-hand account of the Korean summit before delivering his U.N. address on Tuesday.