Two weeks ago, it appeared that Iran might find a way out, taking Mr. Trump up on his offer of negotiations. But the attacks on Saudi Arabia, and the American accusations of Iranian involvement, have all but killed that possibility, American officials said.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, told reporters on Sunday that President Emmanuel Macron’s mediation looked promising until the oil facility attacks, which he called a “game changer.”
France’s priorities have shifted from brokering a meeting between Tehran and Washington aimed at restarting a dialogue to just trying to prevent a military conflict.
“The meeting between Trump and Rouhani is not the No. 1 subject,” Mr. Le Drian said. “The priority subject is whether we can restart a de-escalation path with the different actors.”
Mr. Zarif said that the decision on Friday by the Americans to designate Iran’s central bank as a financier of terrorism, making it virtually impossible for international institutions to do business with it, meant that Mr. Trump “knowingly or unknowingly closed the door to negotiations.”
All this may be posturing, of course, on both sides. For months now, Iranian elites have been signaling that the country would have no choice but to deal with Mr. Trump — Mr. Zarif, who has spent much of his life in the United States, now predicts that the president is more likely than not to be re-elected.
And Mr. Trump gyrates between threatening military action and repeating his assertion that the Iranians really want “a deal.” His aides say Mr. Trump episodically envisions the kind of leader-to-leader negotiations he has conducted with Kim Jong-un, though as one senior American diplomat noted recently, unlike Mr. Kim, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “doesn’t hug and doesn’t write” complimentary letters. (Mr. Trump’s effort, through Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, to invite Mr. Zarif to the Oval Office several months ago failed; Mr. Zarif said he would meet American leaders only for a deeply substantive conversation, “not a photo-op” of the kind held with Mr. Kim.)