(CNN) - President Donald Trump on Thursday will meet with the president of the Swiss government in order to try to establish a channel with which he can speak to Iranians as tensions between the country and the U.S. heighten, according to a person familiar with ongoing discussions inside the White House.
Trump will meet with the president of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer, at the White House to discuss the nations' relationship and "matters such as Switzerland's role in facilitating diplomatic relations and other international issues," the White House said in a statement.
The president has indicated recently he is intent on speaking with the Iranians, and the source said this meeting with the Swiss is intended to try and move that along.
The Iranians have thus far shown no public willingness to speak to Trump, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said this week that negotiations with the U.S. would be akin to "poison."
The U.S. and Iran do not have an official diplomatic relationship, but Switzerland serves as the protecting power for the U.S. in the country. That means they represent U.S. interests in Iran, performing services for U.S. citizens in the country like visa processing. They also serve as a channel for diplomacy between the two nations though there are other mechanisms for the two nations to communicate.
Last week, after Trump publicly appealed to Iran to call him amid heightened tensions with Tehran, the White House contacted the Swiss to share a phone number the Iranians could call the President on, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the move.
The source said the Swiss likely won't hand over the number unless the Iranians specifically ask for it and it's thought they are highly unlikely to do so. White House officials say Trump's overtures are sincere.
Thursday's meeting comes as the Trump administration makes a number of maneuverings in the Middle East that have ratcheted up tensions with Iran.
Last week, the Pentagon positioned an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers in the region, and the White House has reportedly updated war plans to include the deployment of 120,000 US troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran strikes American forces in the region or speeds up its development of nuclear weapons.
CNN's Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.
- Judge halts Calif. law forcing Trump to release tax returns for ballot
- Migrants will again be able to request medical deferments
- Williamson entertained 9/11 conspiracy theories in 2012 interview
- The famous Three Mile Island nuclear plant is closing
- US expels two Cuban diplomats to UN citing national security threat
- Bernie Sanders campaign hits 1 million donors
- Democratic donor Ed Buck to face a federal charge, source says
- Civil rights activist Emily Clyburn dies at 80