Rouhani Confers With World Leaders

Rouhani Confers With World Leaders
Rouhani Confers With World Leaders
The French president said Paris is keen on exploiting the fertile ground created by the nuclear deal to forge collaboration with Tehran

President Hassan Rouhani sat down with a number of world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss Iran's foreign relations and international developments.

The meetings were held on Monday in New York where he arrived a day earlier, his official website reported.

Today, Rouhani is scheduled to take the podium at the UN headquarters to address the UNGA's General Debate, a weeklong summit bringing together heads of state and government from 193 member countries, which kicked off on Tuesday.

This year's meeting is overshadowed by the controversial US President Donald Trump's attempts to rescind the 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump, who has frequently hammered the deal and has spared no opportunity since taking power in January to excoriate Tehran, is expected to use his first appearance at the world body to push for renegotiating the terms of the deal.

US officials have been arguing in recent months that issues irrelevant to the nuclear deal, including Iran's alleged support for terrorism and its ballistic missiles tests, are violations of the "spirit" of the pact.

In a meeting with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, Rouhani described the US approach toward the nuclear pact as "worrisome" for the international community.

"The only body in charge of monitoring [compliance] with the deal is the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has declared Iran compliant seven times so far, and some people should not link a clear agreement like JCPOA to other issues," he said, using the accord's formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Rouhani said any effort to undermine the achievements of the deal should be thwarted and Europe has a big role to play in salvaging the positive atmosphere created by JCPOA.

The JCPOA sent the message that complicated international issues can be settled through dialogue and within a win-win framework, and any harm to the deal can convey this dangerous message that diplomacy cannot solve problems," he said.

Other signatories to the accord, including European powers, are not on the same page with Trump about the deal, and seem to be in consensus over the need to retain the two-year pact.

The deal has given European companies access to Iran's 80-million-strong market, and the post-JCPOA era has seen a flurry of business trips to Tehran and dozens of cooperation agreements.

Rouhani said Tehran is willing to deepen cooperation with France in fields of mutual interest.

"We would welcome French investors coming to Iran to engage in cooperation," he said.

Macron said his government is satisfied with the multilateral pact and will remain committed to it.

"France urges the full implementation of JCPOA and deems renegotiating it as meaningless," he said.

The French president also said his country is keen on exploiting the fertile ground created by JCPOA to forge collaboration with Tehran.

***UN Responsibility

In a separate meeting on the same day with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Rouhani described the nuclear deal as a good model for promoting peace and stability across the globe, saying the world body has a serious responsibility to buttress the pact.

The president said Tehran is ready for closer cooperation with the UN toward settlement of conflicts in the region and tackling the global challenge of terrorism.

"To end problems in the region, one should look for political solutions," he said.

Pointing to plans in Iraq's Kurdistan region to secede from the Arab country, Rouhani said the UN and other players in the international arena need to throw their weight behind Iraq's territorial integrity.

"Any step toward changing borders and geography of the region is perilous and could lead to long-running conflicts that are in nobody's interests," he said.

Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government has announced it will hold a poll on secession from Baghdad later this month.

The decision has been fiercely denounced by neighbors of the landlocked region, particularly Turkey.

Guterres stressed the need for the rigid implementation of the deal by all its signatories, hailing it as a major step to promote global peace that must be protected by the whole international community.

The UN chief said the world body is interested in working closely with Iran to resolve disputes in the Middle East.

"The disintegration of Iraq or Syria won't do any good to regional stability," he said.

Also on Monday, Rouhani met with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

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