Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said President Donald Trump does not have plans to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month.
Mnuchin told reporters that President Trump’s decision on Wednesday to delay a scheduled Oct. 1 tariff hike on Chinese imports was a “goodwill gesture.”
Mnuchin told reporters that there is “no sea change” with the recent departure of former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was unconvinced about engagement with Iran.
“Secretary Pompeo and I have been executing the president’s maximum pressure campaign,” said Mnuchin. President Trump has said he would sit down with Rouhani “with no conditions,” said Mnuchin. But, he added, “That’s not planned at the moment.”
When asked about “how serious” was the French-proposed $15-billion bailout for Iran, Mnuchin replied, “Absolutely not,” adding that the Trump administration had honest conversations with the French president and finance minister about this.
“They absolutely understand they would need waivers from the U.S. to do that and that is not something we’re contemplating at the moment,” said Mnuchin.
Mnuchin clarified President Trump’s choice to delay a planned Oct. 1 tariff hike on Chinese imports. He told reporters that the Chinese vice premier had requested the delay due to the significance of Oct. 1, which is China’s 70th anniversary. “And the president agreed to that,” said Mnuchin.
“This was done as a goodwill gesture to the Chinese,” stated Mnuchin, who added, “I would hope that China reciprocates but this wasn’t done.”
“The only reason why China is seriously negotiating with us is because of the tariffs,” said Mnuchin. He reminded reporters, “This president is dealing with issues that should have been dealt with for the last 20 or 30 years,” pointing out that President Trump is a negotiator.
“So tariffs do work. That’s what brought them to the table,” said Mnuchin, adding, “No different than sanctions work.”
When queried, Mnuchin said he had spoken to the Chinese about a week before. “There is a deputy level meeting that is set up, I believe it’s either next week or the following week. They’re coming here,” stated Mnuchin.
Mnuchin stated that they have a date for early October but there will be logistics concerns. For instance, their number one priority would be to finalize the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and also the Japanese deal.
Then there is the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which will start on Sept. 17 in New York City.
“My expectation is they’ll be here in October unless something changes,” said Mnuchin referring to the forthcoming Sino-U.S. trade talks.
During the press meeting, the treasury secretary commented on the Trump administration’s approach to the economy, compared with the Democrats’.
“I think it’s clear what our approach has been and it’s worked,” said Mnuchin. “Whether it’s our tax cuts, regulatory relief, or trade. It’s why the U.S. economy is outperforming everything else in the world.”
“And I think if you listen to the Elizabeth Warren plan, you know it is a 100% recession and if not worse,” he said.