A summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month, a senior diplomatic source at the UN headquarters in New York told The Jerusalem Post's sister publication, Ma'ariv. The two presidents are due to be in New York next month to attend the annual assembly and address the session.
The president of the United States declared last week that he was prepared to meet with his Iranian counterpart "without preconditions." The Iranians have so far responded negatively to the offer. However, Western diplomats in New York estimate that clandestine negotiations between the two sides will make it possible to reach an agreement about an upcoming meeting in New York. Diplomats noted that a meeeting on the UN General Assembly sidelines could be accepted as a logical move in both Washington and Tehran, whereby both sides could refer to it as a "random occurrence" and a non-binding conversation. "It's still too early to talk about it, but we think it's worth making the effort to take this opportunity to push toward a meeting between the two leaders," one UN official said.The 73rd UN General Assembly will officially open on September 18, 2018. The assembly is considered a conference of world-wide political significance, with more than 100 heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers in attendance. This provides an opportunity for meetings, discussions and negotiations to take place on the sidelines of the conference, where controversial issues between countries are discussed and clarified.New sanctions imposed by Trump on Iran are due to take effect this Monday. These sanctions are expected to have a severe impact on the country's economy, which is already suffering under the existent sanctions. According to UN officials, these economic difficulties, along with general discontent among the Iranian population, will push the leadership in Tehran to agree to a meeting with Trump. They current difficulties, they said, are to secure unequivocal clarifications from the White House that Trump's declaration of willingness to meet with Rouhani is serious in that it reflects a fundamental change in his policy toward Iran, or whether it is simply an attempt to provoke and increase tensions between Iranians who support the meeting and those who oppose it.Translated by Tamar Ben-Ozer.
Trump says he would meet with Iran"s leaders without preconditions, July 31, 2018 (Reuters)