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Trump And Rouhani UN Speeches Highlight U.S.- Iran Standoff

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has expressed a new view about negotiations between Iran and the United States during his speech at the UN General Assembly. "For dialogue to take place, there is no need for a photo opportunity. The two sides can listen to each other right here in this Assembly. I am starting the dialogue right here," he said.

Referring to the United States' withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, Rouhani added: "Dialogue can resume in this Assembly from the same point and by the same person who left the dialogue table, and walked away from the accord."

But President Donald Trump clearly repeated the U.S. demand that Iran must change its behavior in refraining from adventures in other countries.

Rouhani pointed out that the two sides can make a new deal if it is in continuation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This suggest that the solution to the Islamic Republic's biggest foreign policy problem and the deadlock in the ties between Iran and the United States could be returning to the JCPOA where it was left off.

"Beginning the dialogue starts with ending threats and unjust sanctions that negate the principles of ethics and international law."

However, the war of words between Iran and the United States continued in the speeches of their presidents at the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday September 25, as Rouhani warned "in unequivocal terms," that "the question of international security is not a toy in American domestic politics. The United Nations is not a part of the United States administration."

He also called "Unlawful unilateral sanctions a form of economic terrorism," and "breach of Iran's right to development."

Rouhani further reiterated that “What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfilment of obligations.”

Reminding Tehran's contribution to the international campaign against Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Daesh, Rouhani concluded: "Appreciate these historical realities about Iran. Quit imposing sanctions and end extremism. The world will not have a better friend than Iran, if peace is what you seek."

Apart from suggesting resumption of dialogue between Tehran and Washington from where they left off, most of what Rouhani were not new. Even the seemingly new suggestion was briefly mentioned in previous exchange of words between the two sides.

Trump who had called Rouhani "an absolutely lovely man," in a tweet earlier on Tuesday, described Iran in his speech as "a corrupt dictatorship, whose leaders sew chaos, death and disruption."

More than a few observers have hinted that Trump's comment about Rouhani could have been sarcastic, though.

Trump added: " They do not respect their neighbors, borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, they plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from the treasury, seized valuable portions and looted the religious endowments to line their own pockets and to send their proxies to wage war."

"The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40%, adding, "The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism and…slaughter in Syria and Yemen."

Regardless of Rouhani's not so generous offer of dialogue, what can practically come up in the next chapter of relations between Tehran and Washington, depend to a great extent on what will happen at the UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday September 26 which is to be chaired by Trump.

Whether Rouhani or his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif do or do not take part in the meeting would indicate how serious Rouhani's offer of dialogue with Washington might be.