'Rouhani would not take Trump's call'


PARIS: US President Donald Trump phoned his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN summit last month but he refused to take the call, a French diplomatic source said on Tuesday.
The call happened on September 24, the source said, after French President Emmanuel Macron had shuttled between the US and Iranian leaders in a bid to arrange a historic encounter that he hoped would reduce the risk of all-out war in the Middle East. “In New York, up to the last moment, Emmanuel Macron tried to broker contact, as his talks with presidents Trump and Rouhani led him to think contact was possible,” the diplomatic source said.
Speculation was abuzz last month that the leaders could meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
But Rouhani said he would only hold talks with the US if Trump lifted economic sanctions on Tehran.
Macron used his 48 hours in New York to see Trump three times and Rouhani twice, urging them to engage directly.
The source said Macron made a last-ditch attempt before flying back to Paris, with French technicians installing a secure phone line linking Trump’s Lotte hotel and the Millennium, hosting the Iranian delegation. The plan involved Trump calling at 9pm despite doubts over the Iranian reaction. Macron went to the Millennium to ensure the phone call took place.–Agencies