Rouhani in NY, to Confer With Cameron, Hollande

Rouhani in NY, to Confer With Cameron, HollandeRouhani in NY, to Confer With Cameron, Hollande

President Hassan Rouhani is due to discuss regional developments and issues of mutual interest and concern with two European leaders in New York where he arrived Monday to attend the United Nations General Assembly. Media reports and informed sources were quoted as saying that Rouhani is due to meet French President Francois Hollande and the British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday or Thursday.

The meeting with Cameron is billed as important because it will be the first time an Iranian president and a UK prime minister will meet after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that toppled the pro-Western Shah.

It is believed that ways to proceed in the nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany), and the death and destruction unleashed by the so-called Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria will top the agenda of the two-way meetings along with developments in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.                  

Prospects and possibilities of improving Tehran’s relations with London and Paris will also be reviewed.

The meeting between the president and the UK prime minister, a significant thaw in diplomatic relations between the countries, is designed to explore the support the Iranians can give to the fight against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

The Iranians were not invited to the recent Paris talks on building an international coalition against IS, and have also been excluded from two conferences in Geneva on the Syria crisis.  

Rouhani has been a fierce critic of IS, but has derided the US air strikes campaign as it involves no commitment to ground forces.

Cameron is expected to make clear that IS is a common and extremely serious threat that can only be tackled in Iraq and urge Iran to shift its policy on Syria. Cameron will also send a message to the Iranians on the long-running nuclear negotiations on behalf of the E3 + 3 group that, “Iran has a rare opportunity to embolden its prosperity through a deal but this is only possible if Iran is willing to show flexibility and be realistic about the future scope of its nuclear program, in particular the issue of enrichment.”

No 10 sources said, “We are under no illusion about … Iran’s nuclear program and our approach on that is not changing. However, if Iran is willing to join the international community to defeat IS then we will work with them on that.”

Speaking from the presidential palace in Tehran before his visit to the UN, Rouhani questioned US President Barack Obama’s decision to go after IS with air strikes.

“Are Americans afraid of giving casualties on the ground in Iraq? Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?” Rouhani said.

“If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody is injured from the Americans, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice? Is it possible to reach a big goal without that? In all regional and international issues, the victorious one is the one who is ready to do sacrifice.

“Maybe it is necessary for air strikes in some conditions and some circumstances,” he added. “However, air strikes should take place with the permission of the people and the government of that country.”

HIGHLIGHT: The British prime minister will meet the Iranian president in New York for first bilateral talks in decades, signaling improvement in Tehran-London relations  

  Possible France Talks on IS

The question of whether Iran might play a role in the international campaign against the Islamic State (IS) militant group was likely to come up in a meeting between the French and Iranian presidents, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on Monday, Reuters reported.

President Hassan Rouhani and French President Francois Hollande were due to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Islamic State militants have taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria and are blamed for multiple massacres of civilians and beheadings.