Still, Mrs. Bagheri expressed doubt that direct talks between Mr. Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran would automatically help improve the lives of ordinary Iranians.
“This Trump has many complexes and he is not interested in compromise, so talking to him might mean we end up losing even more,” Mrs. Bagheri said. “I just want a better life for our people.”
The economic problems, combined with dozens of corruption cases that have exposed high-level greed, have made it difficult for Iran’s leaders to convince people that talking to the United States is a bad option, something supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei highlighted in a speech two weeks ago.
“Of course Trump is manipulating our people by calling for talks,” said Nader Karimi Joni, a journalist and activist critical of Iran’s government. “He knows our leaders will decline. For ordinary people in Iran, it doesn’t matter whether Trump can be trusted, is crazy or even is serious about really negotiating. They just hear Trump wants to talk and our leaders don’t.”
Iran’s leadership has been trying to show the appearance of unity, and has taken on a defensive posture. Faced with the unpredictable Mr. Trump, both President Rouhani and several commanders warned that they could close the Strait of Hormuz, a key passageway for global oil traffic, whenever they like.
But not everybody believes that would accomplish much.
“Let’s face it,” said Reza Asghari, a 50-year-old businessman. “We can’t really close off the Strait without inviting U.S. military action. In fact, we can’t even make preconditions for direct talks. Who are we to do that? We need jobs, not more tension.”
Rumors are swirling across Tehran that secret talks with the United States have already begun. On Friday the foreign minister of Oman, the Persian Gulf sultanate that hosted the secret meetings between Iranian and American officials that led to the nuclear talks, may visit Tehran. The minister, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, was in Washington last week.