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Tensions in the Persian Gulf  have escalated in recent months as Iran has taken provocative measures against international shipping and has carried out missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities. As tension has risen, there has been speculation about President Trump’s supposed willingness to meet with Rouhani.

In Late August, President Trump said he would be willing to meet with Rouhani if “the circumstances were right.” That qualifier is usually overlooked.

As September came to a close, reports surfaced—that French President Macron had set up a three-way conference call with Trump and Rouhani, only to have Rouhani refuse to take the call.

Some may argue the relative success of Trump’s overtures to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is reason to negotiate with Iran. However, Iran and North Korea are very different.

The United States should not negotiate with Iran, first and foremost because Iran is the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, and according to official U.S. policy, we do not negotiate with terrorists.

There are other reasons why we should not negotiate with Iran:

Despite all of this, President Trump should refuse to meet with President Rouhani because Rouhani is not Iran’s decision-maker.

During his decades as a successful real estate tycoon, President Trump negotiated countless deals. He even wrote a book about it called Trump: The Art of the Deal.

In order to strike a deal, you have to be talking to the decision-maker, the person with the authority to say yes or no. The President of Iran may be the titular head of government, but he does not rule.

Since 1989, all the power and authority in Iran with regard to defense policy, economic policy, foreign policy, and national planning have been exercised by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran’s President serves at the pleasure of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Candidates for president must be approved by the Supreme Leader and, upon election, once again approved by the Ayatollah. Khamenei also has the authority to dismiss the president at any time he sees fit. The president signs treaties on behalf of Iran only by direction of the Supreme Leader.

The president gets to appoint some cabinet ministers, but even those must be approved by the Supreme Leader and can be removed at any time. Certain cabinet ministries cannot be selected by the president and are only appointed by the Supreme Leader, including the Defense Minister, the Intelligence Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Science Minister (including nuclear development).

President Trump should not bother meeting with what amounts to Iran’s errand boy, President Hassan Rouhani.

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