Macron rejects Trump’s call to isolate Iran, urges dialogue
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Macron rejects Trump’s call to isolate Iran, urges dialogue

After US president’s hawkish UN speech, French leader says Tehran should be allowed to sell oil, saying it will promote peace and lower prices

French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters on September 25, 2018, in New York. (AFP Photo/ludovic Marin)
French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters on September 25, 2018, in New York. (AFP Photo/ludovic Marin)

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Iran should be allowed to keep selling oil and urged dialogue as he rejected a US push to isolate the Tehran regime.

Speaking to reporters after addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Macron said that Iranian sales would bring down the price of oil — a professed concern of US President Donald Trump.

“It would be good for the price of oil for Iran to be able to sell it. It’s good for peace and it’s good for the shape of the international price of oil,” Macron said.

France and other European powers are setting up a way to allow businesses to keep doing business in Iran in hopes of avoiding sanctions by the United States, which has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)

Addressing world leaders shortly after Trump, the French president credited the accord with curbing the nuclear program of Iran.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 25, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

“What will bring a real solution to the situation in Iran and what has already stabilized it? The law of the strongest? Pressure from only one side? No!” Macron said in his address. “We know that Iran was on a nuclear military path, but what stopped it? The 2015 Vienna accord.”

Trump has withdrawn from the seven-nation agreement negotiated under his successor Barack Obama, calling it a “disaster” and instead ramping up pressure on Iran including through renewed sanctions.

Supported by Israel and Saudi Arabia, Trump has sought to roll back Iranian influence around the Middle East, including in war-ravaged Syria.

But Macron said: “We should not aggravate regional tensions but rather through dialogue and multilateralism pursue a broader agenda that allows us to address all the concerns caused by Iranian policies — nuclear, ballistic, regional.”

In his own address to the UN earlier on Tuesday, Trump blasted what he called Iran’s “corrupt dictatorship” and accused its leaders of enriching themselves through massive embezzlement and raiding state coffers to spread “mayhem” across the Middle East and around the world.

Trump called out Iran’s “bloody agenda” in Syria and Yemen in particular, vowing to continue to isolate Iran through US sanctions that are being reinstated following his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this year.

The next round of sanctions that had been eased under the accord will take effect in early November and Trump said they would not be the last.

He later predicted that the pressure from renewed sanctions would force Iran back to the table to negotiate.

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction,” Trump told the General Assembly in a 34-minute speech that was more critical of Iran than any other country. “They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.”

Repeating his longstanding criticism of the nuclear deal, which was a signature foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration, Trump called it “horrible.” He maintained that many Middle Eastern countries had supported the decision to withdraw. In fact, only Israel and Gulf Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates enthusiastically backed the move.

The other parties to the deal, under which Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, remain in the agreement and plan a meeting later this week in New York to reaffirm their support for it. Aside from Iran, the other participants are Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the European Union.

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