WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump is labeling as "incorrect" reports that he is willing to meet with Iranian leaders with "no conditions" to ease tensions, even though he and his aides have made the pledge on several occasions.
Late Sunday, Trump said on Twitter, "The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, 'No Conditions.' That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)."
In June, however, asked about meeting with Iran without setting conditions, Trump told NBC, "Not as far as I'm concerned, no preconditions."
He told Iran, "Look, you can't have nuclear weapons. If you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise, you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come."
Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House, "The president has made clear, he's happy to take a meeting with no preconditions." Twenty seconds later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added, "The president's made it very clear: he is prepared to meet with no preconditions."
Although no meeting has been scheduled, U.S. officials had raised the possibility that Trump could meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later this month at the United Nations General Assembly.
Trump's complaint about the media's accurate reporting of his Iran intentions came minutes after he tweeted his thoughts on Saturday's drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's key oil production operations, for which Pompeo, without offering evidence, has blamed Iran.
"Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," Pompeo wrote, dismissing claims by Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen that they had carried out the drone attack.
Iran calls the charges it was behind the attack "maximum lies."
Trump signaled U.S. willingness for a retaliatory strike on Saudi Arabia's behalf, saying, "There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!"
Trump said he has authorized the release of oil from the U.S.'s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, "if needed, in a to-be-determined amount," to stabilize world energy needs as the price of crude rose sharply in early Monday trading on the global market.