Macron criticises “isolationist” Trump in Congress speech

EPA-EFE/ALEX EDELMAN

Macron criticises “isolationist” Trump in Congress speech


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In spite of the previous show of friendship, French President Emmanuel Macron repeatedly criticised Donald Trump’s isolationist principles in a speech to a joint meeting of Congress, an honour given to a small number of visiting foreign leaders.

Macron said U.S. involvement in the global community was vital and Trump’s opposition to the Paris climate accord and international trade agreements was short-sighted.

Macron said he had very frank discussions with Donald Trump on the Iran nuclear agreement and believes the two countries should begin work to forge a new accord to address concerns about Tehran.

Macron said after his talks with Trump, who has threatened to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, that he believes it will be possible to “build something new that will cover all of our concerns.”

Without mentioning Trump by name, he challenged the Republican president’s protectionist and nationalist impulses and said modern economic and security challenges must be a shared global responsibility that is “based on a new breed of multilateralism.”

“The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism. You are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it,” Macron said.

Macron went to the White House on a mission to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran, which he said could be seen as one “pillar” of a broader accord that he said should include three other “pillars.”

The new deal would address Western concerns with Iran’s ballistic-missile program and would attempt to come up with political solutions to “contain” Iran’s involvement in Lebanon and in the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars, he said.

The broader deal would address the “whole of the situation in the region” and would be the only way to “bring about stability” there while also addressing Trump’s criticisms of the nuclear deal, Macron said.

Trump said he backed the idea of trying to forge a broader deal with Iran. He said France and the United States agree not only that Iran “cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon” but that the “regime must end its support of terrorism.”

“I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger, maybe, deal,” said Trump. “We’ll see…whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations.”

Trump claimed the nuclear deal has “decayed foundations. It’s a bad deal. It’s a bad structure. It’s falling down.” And he said it should have addressed broader concerns about Iran’s activities in the Middle East.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Iran signed with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, put curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

“They should have made a deal that covered Yemen, that covered Syria, that covered other parts of the Middle East,” Trump said. “No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.”

Neither Trump nor Macron indicated whether Iran would get something in return for concessions they indicated they would be seeking on Tehran’s missile development and intervention activities in the Middle East.

UN diplomats said Iran appears to be signaling it is ready to put pressure on its allies, the Huthi rebels in Yemen, to return to peace negotiations with the Saudi-backed Yemeni government..

Some diplomats saw Zarif’s proposal as a sign that Tehran is willing to address U.S. complaints about its behavior in the region.

While at the UN, Zarif met with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who held meetings earlier this month with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to press for an end to the war in Yemen.

On the sidelines of the UN meeting, Zarif also met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to discuss the fate of the Iran nuclear deal as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares for her White House visit on April 27.

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