BIARRITZ (France) • US President Donald Trump has said it was realistic to think that a meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani could happen in the coming weeks.
"I have a good feeling. They have to be good players, if you understand what I mean. They can't do what they were saying they were going to do, because if they do that, they will be met with really very violent force. So I think they are going to be good," Mr Trump told reporters at a news conference at a Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France.
"I think he is going to want to meet and get their situation straightened out. They are hurting badly," Mr Trump said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said during the news conference that he hoped to arrange a meeting between the two leaders within weeks.
The US President was more cautious. He said he would meet Mr Rouhani "if the circumstances were correct or were right".
Mr Trump also said he would support extending what he called a "letter of credit" to Iran, secured by oil, to help the country meet short-term financial obligations, another of Mr Macron's proposals.
"It would be from numerous countries," Mr Trump said, and "it would be paid back immediately."
Mr Trump spoke at the conclusion of the G-7 summit where he met the leaders of Britain, France and Germany, who are trying to hold together the nuclear deal with Iran that Mr Trump exited last year.
The summit's biggest surprise was the arrival of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday for talks with Mr Macron.
Mr Zarif also met French and other European diplomats, but Mr Trump said it was "too soon" for him to meet Mr Zarif.
"I knew everything he (Macron) was doing and I approved everything he was doing," Mr Trump said yesterday, adding that the French President "asked for my approval".
Mr Trump last year unilaterally pulled out of the landmark 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers - reached when Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama was in office - aimed at curbing Iran's disputed uranium enrichment programme in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Teheran.
Mr Trump has since put in place a policy of "maximum pressure" on Teheran over its disputed nuclear programme via crippling sanctions that are seen as raising the risk of conflict in the Middle East.
Mr Trump proclaimed on Sunday that the G-7 summit was going "beautifully".
While Mr Trump reaffirmed Washington's goal of extracting farther-reaching security concessions from Iran, he told reporters he wanted to see "a really good Iran, really strong; we're not looking for regime change".
Mr Zarif arrived in China, after his visit to the G-7 summit.
He said yesterday, during a meeting in Beijing with the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, that the rejection of international law is on the rise.
China has close energy and diplomatic ties with Iran, and is one of the signatories to the nuclear deal, which it says must be upheld.
"We are comprehensive strategic partners," Mr Wang said. "That speaks to the high level of our relationship and our close strategic cooperation."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG