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AFP
September 26, 2018

Trump, Rouhani set for UN clash

World

AFP
September 26, 2018

A showdown looms at the United Nations over Iran on Tuesday as President Donald Trump and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani are set to square off during the world’s biggest diplomatic gathering.

On the opening day of the General Assembly debate, Trump and Rouhani are to take their turn at the podium four months after the US president ditched the Iran nuclear deal. The five remaining parties to the agreement -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- announced on Monday plans to keep business ties alive with Iran, staring down Washington’s move to impose sanctions.

Eyeing his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump will also tout his diplomacy with Pyongyang as a win, even if the North has taken little concrete action to dismantle its missile and nuclear programmes.

Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in May, to the dismay of European allies, Russia and China which had invested years in negotiations to achieve a milestone agreement on keeping Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check.

In his address, Rouhani will stress that Iran continues to stick to the 2015 deal and portray the United States as a pariah for breaking its international commitments. But even though they will be speaking from the same stage, both men have ruled out a meeting on the sidelines of the assembly.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Trump said he had no plans to meet Rouhani "despite requests" to do so. "Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!" he said.

Trump used his UN address last year to bash the nuclear deal as "an embarrassment," signaling that the United States was ready to walk away from the agreement. After its exit, the United States maintains that it is seeking to ramp up pressure on Iran which it accuses of sowing chaos in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

"As I have said repeatedly, regime change in Iran is not the administration’s policy," Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton told reporters. "We’ve imposed very stringent sanctions on Iran, more are coming, and what we expect from Iran is massive changes in their behavior," he said. After a late meeting on Monday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that a new legal entity would be set up to preserve oil and other business links with Iran.

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