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What's behind Rouhani's about-face on Trump meeting?

While Iran’s president stated that he doesn't want to be part of a photo op for Trump, negotiations for saving the nuclear deal are still making progress.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani walks by his country's flag at a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid - HP1EE9Q1DYAGU

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently hinted at a willingness to attend a meeting with US President Donald Trump. But, amid hopes for a meeting to take place between the leaders of Iran and the United States after four decades, he changed his mind over the last 48 hours.

Rouhani said Aug. 26 in a public speech, "If I knew that I was going to have a meeting with someone and [that the meeting would lead to] prosperity for my country and people's problems would be resolved, I would not hesitate.” Rouhani said a meeting is planned Aug. 29 with “related officials,” including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Zarif made an unannounced visit to Biarritz, France, coinciding with the G-7. He came at the invitation of his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian and, in addition to meeting the French foreign minister, spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the summit.

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