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Trump sees path to peace with Iran even as he denounces leadership for ‘bloodlust’

US President Donald Trump delivers a speech at the 74th session of UN General Assembly in New York, United States on 24 September, 2019 [Erçin Top/Anadolu Agency]

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced Iran’s “bloodlust” and called on other nations to join the United States to apply pressure on Iran after attacks on Saudi oil facilities, but said there is a path to peace, reports Reuters.

America knows that while anyone can make war, only the most courageous can choose peace,

Trump said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly annual gathering of world leaders.

In his third UN appearance, Trump offered a more subdued tone compared to the bombast of his previous speeches in 2017 and 2018, looking to convey a more reassuring presence as he asks Americans for a second term next year despite a fresh push for his impeachment among some Democrats.

While offering his habitual defense of national sovereignty – “the future must never belong to globalists” – Trump tempered his language, stressing the US desire for peaceful relations with all and calling for collective, rather than unilateral, action.

The response to Trump in the chamber was relatively muted, a year after the crowd laughed when he boasted about his achievements and gasped in 2017 when he threatened to wipe out North Korea.

READ: Pompeo says US mission is to avoid war with Iran but measures in place to deter

The September 14 attacks in Saudi Arabia, widely blamed on Iran, have rattled the Middle East and raised concerns about a broader war. Iran denies involvement. Trump has shown restraint in the crisis, holding back from military retaliation despite pressure from hawkish allies, at least for now.

But he promised to keep trying to squeeze Iran’s economy with sanctions until Tehran agrees to give up what Washington says is a pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran has said its nuclear program has always been for peaceful purposes only.

“All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s bloodlust. As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened,” Trump said.

Trump was tough on Iran and its leadership, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York for UN activities amid speculation about whether they might meet to discuss their differences.

An Iranian diplomat sat in Iran’s second-row seat for Trump’s speech. Rouhani was at his New York hotel, not in the UN chamber.

In remarks to media on Tuesday Rouhani said he was open to discussing small changes, additions or amendments to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers if the United States lifted sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.

French President Emmanuel Macron, trying to create conditions for talks between the United States and Iran, said he hoped there could be progress on Iran on Tuesday after he held talks with Rouhani on Monday.

“We have to get back around the table to have a frank and demanding discussion,” Macron told reporters.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Rouhani on Tuesday and said she told him she would welcome US talks with Iran but that it was unrealistic for Tehran to think sanctions would be lifted before talks take place.

OPINION: Saudi Arabia will not go to war against Iran on its own

Over the past week, Trump has tightened economic sanctions on Iran and ordered more US troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a show of support for those US allies in the tense region.

“America is ready to embrace friendship to all who genuinely seek peace and respect,” Trump said. “The United States has never believed in permanent enemies. We want partners, not adversaries.”

Iran Deal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Iran Deal – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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