Trump says he's willing to talk to Iran without preconditions

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he would be willing to meet Iranian leaders without preconditions to discuss how to improve ties after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying, "If they want to meet, we'll meet."

Asked at a White House news conference whether he was willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Trump said: "I'd meet with anybody. I believe in meetings," especially in cases where war is at stake.

On July 22, Trump said in a tweet directed at Rouhani: "Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence & death. Be cautious!"

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani shake hands during their meeting in Sochi, Russia, November 22, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C), his Indian counterpart Ramnath Kovind (L) and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk after Rouhani's ceremonial reception in New Delhi, India, February 17, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 28: French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prior to attend a meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on January 28, 2016 in Paris, France. Hassan Rouhani is to make the first state visit to France by an Iranian president in nearly two decades following the lifting of sanctions against his country. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) is welcomed by Pope Francis at the Vatican January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Medichini/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (L) shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba, September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Alejandro Ernesto/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Cuba's former President Fidel Castro (R) and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (L) meet in Havana, Cuba, September 19, 2016. Courtesy of Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
VIENNA, AUSTRIA - JULY 04: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shake hands at the Federal Chancellery on July 4, 2018 in Vienna, Austria. Rouhani is on a one-day visit to Austria, during which he is meeting with President van der Bellen and Chancellor Kurz and will attend an event at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a meeting with Muslim leaders and scholars in Hyderabad, India, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with Muslim leaders and scholars in Hyderabad, India, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves towards the media as he exits Mecca Masjid following Friday prayers in Hyderabad, India February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
A video projection is seen on the face of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani as he arrives for a news conference during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S. September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani delivers remarks at a news conference during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S. September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives at a news conference during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S. September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference in Tehran, Iran, May 22, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L), meets with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2013 in New York City. While their have been talks of diplomatic relations between Iran and the United states restarting, Rouhani turned down an opportunity to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the week. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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A few hours earlier, Rouhani had addressed Trump in a speech, saying that hostile U.S. policies could lead to "the mother of all wars."

On Monday, Trump, speaking at a news conference with visiting Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, said: "I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don't know that they're ready yet. I ended the Iran deal. It was a ridiculous deal. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet and I'm ready to meet any time that they want to."

Trump said he had "no preconditions" for a meeting with the Iranians, adding: "If they want to meet, I'll meet."

"If we could work something out that's meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet," he added, noting that it would be good for the United States, Iran and the world.

In May, Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 international agreement designed to deny Tehran the ability to build nuclear agreements.

Since then Iran and other signatories have been working to find a way to salvage the agreement, even as the United States has begun reimposing some sanctions on Iran.

World powers and Iran have been working on an economic package to compensate for U.S. sanctions that begin taking effect in August.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, writing by David Alexander; Editing by Doina Chiacu and James Dalgleish)

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