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‘We’ll be talking about Iran’: Trump set for UN General Assembly speech

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office before departing the White House on May 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
September 24, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump says his dispute with Iran will be a key issue when he addresses the UN General Assembly in New York on September 24 as he looks to bolster support for his strategy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran.

“We’ll be talking about Iran,” Trump said on September 23 as he briefed reporters about his speech before the gathering of the world’s leaders at the annual UN event.

“We have a lot of pressure on them [the Iranians] right now, more pressure than they’ve ever had,” Trump told reporters.

“A lot of things are happening with respect to Iran, a lot more than you would know, a lot more than the media knows,” he added.

Trump’s speech is scheduled for the morning session, although an exact time has not yet been determined.

Trump has taken a hard line against Tehran since assuming office in January 2017.

In May 2018, he withdrew from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with six world powers and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.

France, Germany, and Britain, which also signed the accord, have struggled to keep the deal alive but have also warned Tehran against “provocations” amid a series of attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf region and on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Many in the West have blamed Iran for the attacks. Tehran has denied involvement.

Speculation has arisen about a possible meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rohani during the General Assembly, but Trump on September 23 said nothing was planned.

Trump said he will also tell the UN that “the United States is the greatest country in the world. It’s never been stronger, and it’s never been better.”

Trump is also scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on September 25.

Zelenskiy said a day before the meeting that he expected to have a “meaningful, powerful” meeting with Trump to shore up Washington’s support for Kyiv as it pushes for a meeting with the leaders of Russia, France, and Germany over the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“We want to come out of this meeting with some results on the specific terms for ending the war and returning our territories,” Zelenskiy said.

The meeting has taken on new importance as well following Trump’s admission that he had raised the subject of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son in a July 25 call with Zelenskiy.

Trump said he had told Zelenskiy that “we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son,” contributing to corruption already happening in Ukraine.

He denied pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden, one of the leading Democratic contenders seeking to oppose Trump, a Republican, in next year’s election.

Trump’s admission about the phone call has stoked calls for Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings in Congress.

Trump will hold a series of bilateral meetings during the day, including with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Johnson will also be addressing the United Nations on September 24, as well as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi among others.