Netanyahu to meet Trump ahead of UN Security Council meeting on Iran
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Netanyahu to meet Trump ahead of UN Security Council meeting on Iran

Tehran’s nuclear activities and entrenchment in Syria to dominate agenda of Israeli, US leaders on third day of General Assembly

US President Donald Trump (right) welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on March 5, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
US President Donald Trump (right) welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on March 5, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a one-on-one meeting with US President Donald Trump in New York on Wednesday morning on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, ahead of a Security Council meeting on Iran chaired by Trump himself.

Netanyahu arrived in New York late on Tuesday evening, missing speeches to the UN by Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Trump will meet Netanyahu at the United Nations headquarters in Turtle Bay at 9:15 a.m. (4:15 p.m. Israel time), according to the White House.

The Netanyahu-Trump meeting is likely to be dominated by Tehran’s efforts to entrench itself in Syria and to deliver advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as the US administration’s sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the White House’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, which administration officials say is nearly finalized and may be published in the coming weeks.

Netanyahu and Trump last met on March 5 in Washington, but have spoken several times on the phone since.

That meeting at the White House was the two leaders’ fifth bilateral summit since the US president took office in January 2017.

Wednesday’s short meeting will come less than an hour before Trump is scheduled to pick up the gavel at the Security Council, heading a meeting on non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction which will focus heavily on Iran — likely triggering a clash with other big powers.

“It will be the most watched Security Council meeting ever,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said earlier this week.

The diplomatic gathering will take stock of the thaw in relations between North and South Korea, and groundbreaking US-North Korea moves to address the threat from Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

On Tuesday, during an unabashedly “America First” speech, Trump said Iranian leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction” and “spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.” His national security adviser, John Bolton, warned that there would be “hell to pay” if Tehran crossed the US, its allies or their partners.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by accusing the Trump administration of violating the rules of international law and “state obligations” by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the US and five other major powers.

Rouhani is almost certain not to attend the Security Council meeting, which will test Trump’s ability to maintain diplomatic decorum and interact with representatives of rival nations.

The council has five permanent members — the US, China, Russia, Britain and France — and 10 other member states, who each occupy a council seat for two-year terms. Iran is not among them.

Business will continue Wednesday at the General Assembly, where for a second day, 193 UN members take turns speaking out on pressing world issues and their national priorities in world affairs.

Among those tentatively scheduled to speak are the leaders of Panama, Iraq, Colombia, Afghanistan and Cuba.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend this year’s assembly session, which ends October 1, a significant increase from the 114 leaders last year.

Netanyahu is scheduled to deliver a speech on Thursday early afternoon, only minutes after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

After sitting with Trump Wednesday, Netanyahu is scheduled to have separate bilateral meetings with Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The meeting with Macron will come days after France and other European countries agreed to create a mechanism with Iran to evade US sanctions set to be imposed in the wake of Trump’s pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal. Netanyahu had been among the pact’s most vociferous critics.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, right, in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayun)

Netanyahu will reportedly also meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi late Wednesday night, though the Prime Minister’s Office has not confirmed the meeting.

Last year the two leaders held their first-ever public sit-down on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

On Thursday, Netanyahu will meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Rwandan President Paul Kagame after delivering his address to the General Assembly.

His speech, for which three Israeli cabinet ministers — Miri Regev, Ayoub Kara and Tzachi Hanegbi — will be present, is scheduled for 1 p.m. (8 p.m. Israel) but the time is not final and could go as late as 2:30 p.m., his office said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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