After President Donald Trump publicly appealed to Iran to call him amid heightened tensions with Tehran, the White House contacted the Swiss on Thursday to share a phone number the Iranians could call the President on, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the move.
“I’d like to see them call me,” Trump said of the Iranians in the White House on Thursday.
The source said the Swiss likely won’t hand over the number unless the Iranians specifically ask for it and it’s thought they are highly unlikely to do so. White House officials say Trump’s overtures are sincere.
On Friday, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander said Iran would not engage in talks with the “Americans,” IRGC Lieutenant Commander for Political Affairs Brigadier General Yadollah Javani told the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.
“Negotiations with Americans will not take place, and Americans will not dare to take military action against us,” Javani added.
The White House did not reply to request for comment on the sharing of the number.
The US and Iran do not have an official diplomatic relationship and Switzerland serves as the protecting power for the US in the country. That means they represent US interests in Iran, performing services for US citizens in the country like visa processing. They also serve as a channel for diplomacy between the two nations though there are other mechanisms for the two nations to communicate.
US has increased its military presence
Trump’s public overture comes as the US has increased its military presence in the region, deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force due to what administration officials say is “specific and credible” intelligence indicating Iran poses a threat to US forces in the area.
Shortly after Trump asked Iran to call him, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement warning that the US would issue a “swift and decisive” US response to any attack.
Iran “has engaged in an escalating series of threatening actions and statements in recent weeks,” Pompeo said, echoing Pentagon and unnamed US officials. He provided no specifics about the nature or scope of that threat, but other US officials have said that they’ve observed Iranian forces moving missiles around on boats.
US officials have said they see no sign the Iranian threat has dissipated and on Thursday CNN reported US intelligence indicates no sign of a “decrease in Iran’s posture.”
Iranian officials, however, including President Hassan Rouhani, have said they have no interest in a conflict. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said Tehran believes some US officials are trying to provoke Iran into a war, portraying it as a trap Tehran means to avoid.
Speaking in New York last month as tensions rose, Zarif said “It is not a crisis yet, but it is a dangerous situation. Accidents, plotted accidents, are possible.” Referring to a group of foreign and domestic officials that includes national security adviser John Bolton, the Iranian official added that he “wouldn’t discount the B team plotting an accident anywhere in the region.”
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the US pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement.
On Wednesday Iran declared it would ease its adherence to the international nuclear pact that constrains its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
“The path we have chosen today is not the path of war, it is the path of diplomacy,” Rouhani said when he made the announcement in a nationally televised address. “But diplomacy with a new language and a new