U.N. General Assembly live updates: Trump threatens to ‘destroy North Korea’

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figcaption,#liveblog-description,#top-button-container,#bottom-button-container,#lb-topper-meta{padding-left:20px;padding-right:20px}.lb-widget.lb-widget-image,.lb-widget.lb-widget-video{padding-left:0;padding-right:0}.lb-widget.lb-widget-image figure.lb-size-small{padding-left:10px;padding-right:20px}.lb-widget.lb-widget-image figure.lb-size-small figcaption{padding-left:0;padding-right:0}.lb-hide-mobile{display:none}.lb-hide-desktop{display:inherit}article.lb-card{padding:30px 0 0 0}.lb-card-contents{width:100%;float:none}header.lb-card-header{padding-right:20px;padding-left:20px;padding-bottom:0}} Sept. 19, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

The annual U.N. General Assembly has generated sometimes powerful comments by world leaders on issues involving North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and the flight of minority Muslims from Myanmar as more than 100 heads of state and government gathered in New York.

What’s happening:

  • President Trump: In his first address before the General Assembly, Trump threatened to and called Kim Jong Un |
  • U.N. reform: The United States sponsored an event Monday on reforming the 193-member world body. Trump has been critical of the U.N. and has promised to cut the U.S. contribution to its budget.
  • Cyber-terrorism: A side event co-hosted by Britain, France and Italy on “Preventing Terrorist Use of the Internet” will be attended by senior representatives of major social media companies on Wednesday.
  • Peacekeeping: The Security Council is holding a high-level meeting Wednesday on U.N. peacekeeping operations, which cost nearly $8 billion a year.

All updates Climate Change Iran Myanmar North Korea Peacekeeping President Trump Terrorism United States Terrorism Sept. 19, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani emphasizes terrorist threats, backs new U.S. strategy

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, in New York. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday in a speech that praised U.S. plans to send thousands more troops to the country amid the longstanding fight against terrorism. 

Ghani said that 16 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., which resulted in a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, violence by terrorist groups remained a substantial threat in the country.

“Driven by transnational terrorist networks, criminal organizations, cyber crime and state sponsorship of terror” the violence “promises to be a decade long threat to national security rather than a passing phenomenon,” he said.

Ghani, who was elected president in 2014, has focused on bringing stability to his country and combating militant groups such as the Taliban. 

President Trump last month announced a new strategy that includes sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, in addition to about 8,400 U.S. and 5,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops there advising Afghan security forces.

“With President Trump’s recent announcement  of his strategy to counter terrorism and bring stability to South Asia, Afghanistan’s enduring partnership with the U.S. has been renewed and re-directed,” Ghani said. 

Congress authorized the war in Afghanistan after the 2001 attacks. 

Before becoming president, Trump denounced the war, calling it a “terrible mistake” and tweeting in 2013 that “we should leave Afghanistan immediately.” 

Sept. 19, 2017, 1:03 p.m. reporting from Washington

Netanyahu to U.N.: Iran is a menace and nuclear deal a mistake


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had little to say about prospects for peace with the Palestinians — but plenty to say about the Iran nuclear accord, which he vehemently opposes.

Netanyahu, addressing the General Assembly on its opening day Tuesday, called Iran’s nuclear ambitions a “dark shadow” and said its rulers “vow to destroy my country.” That echoed rhetoric employed a short time earlier by President Trump, who called Iran’s government a “reckless regime” and suggested the landmark 2015 accord would be revisited.

Calling yet again for the scrapping of the pact between Iran and six world powers, Netanyahu said the nuclear deal “doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, but actually paves it.”

“Change it, or cancel it. Fix it, or nix it,” the Israeli leader challenged. “Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions, until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability.”

After discussing the Iranian nuclear accord at length, Netanyahu did refer briefly to Israel’s hopes for “peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.”

He said he considered Trump an ally in that effort, adding: “Together we can seize the opportunities for peace, and together we can confront the great dangers of Iran.”

Netanyahu has made clear he does not consider the General Assembly a forum friendly to Israel, and he was critical of actions including last December’s Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlement-building.

Immediately before the Israeli leader spoke, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Palestinian question the “gaping wound of the world” and called for a halt to settlement activity.

Climate ChangeIranNorth KoreaPresident Trump Sept. 19, 2017, 12:07 p.m.

France’s Macron defends Iran nuclear deal and says climate pact is not up for renegotiation

In a pointed rejection of President Trump’s “America first” approach to foreign policy, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged world leaders to join together to confront global challenges, including war, terrorism, immigration and climate change.

“Today, more than ever, we need multilateralism,” Macron said in his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly. “Why? Because our challenges are global.”

Macron said he “profoundly respects” Trump’s decision to withdraw from a landmark agreement reached in Paris in 2015 to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But although he said the deal could be improved, he emphasized, “This accord will not be renegotiated.”

“The future of the world is that of our planet, which is in the process of taking its revenge against the foolishness of men,” he said, referring to recent hurricanes that brought devastation to parts of the Caribbean, Texas and Florida.

Macron’s appeal for collective action and dialogue between nations was in sharp contrast to a , in which he decried a landmark nuclear disarmament deal reached with Iran in 2015 as “an embarrassment to the United States” and threatened North Korea with

North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests present the world with an “existential” threat, Macron said. “Our responsibility, with all our partners, including China, is to bring it back to the negotiating table.”

Macron hailed the agreement reached between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., as a “solid, robust and verifiable” way to ensure  the Islamic Republic does not also arm itself with nuclear weapons.

“To denounce it would be a grave error,” he said. “Because it is a good deal, essential to peace at a time where the risk of an infernal spiral cannot be excluded.”

Sept. 19, 2017, 11:41 a.m. Reporting from New York

Modern slavery has placed millions of people in bondage in the last five years, report says

In this 2015 photo, Indian child laborers carry sacks of vegetable leftovers collected from a wholesale market to sell in their shantytown on the outskirts of Jammu, India. (Channi Anand / Associated Press)

“,” a new report by the Walk Free Foundation and the International Labor Organization, says 89 million people experienced some form of slavery in the last five years.

The report, published Tuesday, said an estimated 25.9 million men, women and children were forced to work against their will in 2016.

“Today, women and girls are predominantly being subjected to forced labor in domestic work and the sex industry, whereas men and boys are being subjected to forced labor in construction, in manufacturing and in fishing,” said Fiona David, the Walk Free Foundation’s executive director of global research. The foundation is working to end slavery and human trafficking.

Also, the report said 15.4 million people were confined to a marriage to which they had not consented. Most of the enslaved are women and girls, who make up 71% of the overall total of enslaved people.

The report demonstrates the challenges of achieving the United Nations’ goal of combating forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking in all its forms by 2025. The report examines different forms of forced labor, which it said occurred in every region of the world in 2016.

The core statistics were based on national surveys involving interviews with more than 71,000 respondents across 48 countries, researchers said. It was supplemented with data from the International Organization for Migration. The report warned the numbers were conservative estimates due to the limitations of the data.

North KoreaPresident TrumpUnited States Sept. 19, 2017, 10:17 a.m.

Read President Trump’s full remarks at the U.N. General Assembly

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

President Trump to General Assembly  

North KoreaPresident Trump Sept. 19, 2017, 10:15 a.m. reporting from New York

Will Kim Jong Un be deterred by Trump’s threat?

Barbara DemickA television screen in Seoul, South Korea, shows President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Aug. 10. (Ahn Young Joon/Associated Press)

The North Korean ambassador to the United Nations walked out just before President Trump’s speech, so there was no immediate read-out on what he or his ultimate boss, Kim Jong Un, might have thought of the nickname “Rocket man,’’ or the warning that the United States might have to “totally destroy North Korea.’’

But North Korea watchers who have proven adept in the past at channeling the reactions of the Pyongyang regime expect a suitably incendiary response.

“Holy cow,’’ said Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA analyst who has been following the country for two decades. “If I were Kim Jong Un, I’d think, I better accelerate this thing and finish building my nuclear weapon before it’s too late. These threats will only increase the hysteria and paranoia in North Korea.’’

 “They will threaten to destroy him [Trump] in language even more colorful than he could muster,’’ predicted Michael J. Green, a former Asia advisor to President George W. Bush. Green said, however, that Trump was right in taking a hard line to warn North Korea that the United States will not tolerate any belligerence towards its allies, South Korea and Japan.

Bruce W. Bennett of the Rand Corporation said Trump’s warning, although blunt, did not differ in substance from what has been the U.S. policy for decades. “The U.S. has always said that if it needs to defend itself or its allies against North Korean aggression, the regime will be destroyed,’’ said Bennett. “I think Trump needed to be very explicit with them.”

Repeated telephone calls to the North Korean mission to the U.N. went unanswered Tuesday morning. Ambassador Ja Song Nam was seen leaving the room before Trump arrived to speak, leaving only a junior diplomat as a representative. reporters said they were told he left in order to “boycott” the speech.



IranNorth KoreaPresident Trump Sept. 19, 2017, 9:39 a.m.

Dianne Feinstein says Trump used U.N. ‘as a stage to threaten war’

Los Angeles Times Staff(Sen. Dianne Feinstein) Sept. 19, 2017, 9:16 a.m.

One word to rule them all: ‘Sovereign’

(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The governing theme of President Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly could be summed up in one word: sovereignty.

In a 42-minute speech, “sovereign” and its variations appeared 21 times, most frequently in the opening and closing parts of the address.

Trump clearly rejected the emphasis that his predecessor, Barack Obama, and other Democrats have put on international institutions and multiparty agreements that restrain national sovereignty.

“The nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition,” he declared — a sentiment that many internationalists would dispute.

“Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity and peace for themselves and for the world,” he said.

At the same time, as several analysts noted, Trump’s respect for the sovereign decisions of independent nations did not extend to the three countries that he singled out for the most criticism — Iran, Venezuela and North Korea — which he threatened to “totally destroy” if they force the U.S. to “defend itself or its allies.”

Those countries, Trump put in a separate category of “rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.”

“They respect neither their own citizens, nor the sovereign rights of other countries,” Trump said, suggesting that, as a result, they had forfeited their own sovereign rights.


Myanmar Sept. 19, 2017, 9:20 a.m. Reporting from Mumbai, India

Human Rights Watch calls for U. N. General Assembly to condemn Myanmar’s military in Rohingya crisis

Rohingya Muslim refugees camp on a road near the Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh on Sept. 19. (Dominque Faget / AFP/Getty Images)

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called for the U.N. General Assembly to condemn the Myanmar military campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim population and urged the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions and an arms embargo against the army.

More than 400,000 Rohingya have escaped Myanmar, also known as Burma, into Bangladesh since the military responded to an Aug. 25 insurgent attack by carrying out deadly operations in the western state of Rakhine, human rights groups said. The military has shot civilians as they fled and burned Rohingya villages to the ground.

The situation in Myanmar, a mostly Buddhist country, has generated criticism of the governing party’s leader, , who addressed the crisis publicly for the first time Tuesday in a nationally televised speech from the capital, Naypyitaw. She said the government wanted to find out why the exodus was happening.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who led the opposition to the nation’s former military leaders, also defended the military and accused the international community of overlooking other challenges facing the country.

The government views members of the ethnic and religious minority as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and not among the dozens of national ethnicities officially recognized by Myanmar. Rohingya activists say many families have lived in Myanmar for years.

The U.N. General Assembly is meeting in New York this week. 

President TrumpUnited States Sept. 19, 2017, 8:38 a.m.

Trump, a United Nations foe during his campaign, offers nuanced praise

President Trump, who dismissed the United Nations as feckless and worthless during his campaign, offered measured praise for the institution during his debut speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, even as he complained that the United States was bearing too much of the cost.

“The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22% of the budget and more,” Trump said. “The United States bears an unfair cost burden.”

Yet he thanked U.N. Secretary General António Guterres “for recognizing that the United Nations must reform,” and singled out for praise efforts led by the U.S. to combat AIDS and malaria and to help empower women around the world.

The dual message suggested that Trump still sees a role for the international body, though a lesser one than either of his predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Trump said that “the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.” 

“This is the beautiful vision of this institution. And this is the foundation for cooperation and success,” he explained. “Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.”

IranPresident TrumpUnited States Sept. 19, 2017, 7:53 a.m.

Trump: ‘Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell’

President Trump told the global leaders at the United Nations General Assembly that “major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell.”

It was one of the most dramatic lines in a 40-minute address in which Trump called for a “great reawakening of nations.”

It was also an example of the challenge in the foreign policy approach Trump laid out, at once tolerant of other nations pursuing their own interests without judgments yet sharply critical of Venezuela and other regimes Trump opposes.

“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example,” Trump said early on, as he emphasized the sovereignty of nations.

He said he did not expect other countries to share in America’s traditions, values or way of life. He said he expected foreign leaders to mirror his “America First” policy of pursuing their own interests ahead of international goals, as long as they peacefully coexisted.

Yet in the second half of his speech, he spoke out sharply against North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, in part for how they treat their own citizens and behave in the world. 

“America stands for every person living in a brutal regime,” Trump said.

He called for “full restoration of democracy and political freedom in Venezuela.”


President TrumpUnited States Sept. 19, 2017, 7:38 a.m.

Trump calls North Korean leader ‘Rocket Man’ in formal speech to U.N., threatens to end Iran deal

mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” and denounced “loser terrorists” in the normally formal occasion of his maiden address to the .

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said in the provocative comments.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself and its allies, it will have no choice but to destroy North Korea,” Trump added.

It was a forceful speech but highly unusual for the U.N.’s annual gathering of 193 member states.

In addition to using nicknames and other colloquial terms, Trump invoked his campaign rally style by boasting that “The United States has done very well since Election Day.”

He also renewed hints that he would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which was blessed by the U.N. Security Council and is monitored by a U.N. nuclear watchdog agency. Trump has bashed the 2015 accord since his campaign, but has so far resisted leaving.

“We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a ,” Trump said.

He called it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” and “an embarrassment to the United States.”

“And I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” he added. “Believe me.”

Any president’s initial speech to the global body would merit attention. But Trump’s has garnered even more interest because of his unpredictable nature and because he was highly critical of the U.N. during his campaign, calling it wasteful, useless and ineffective in defending democratic values.


Sept. 19, 2017, 7:32 a.m. Washington

Nuclear peril is at highest levels since Cold War, U.N. secretary-general warns

(KCNA / Getty/AFP)

The United Nation’s secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, used a high-profile platform – with President Trump in the audience – to warn that the world is facing its worst nuclear peril since the Cold War, and that “fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings.”

Guterres, delivering his first address as secretary-general to the annual gathering of the world body’s General Assembly, also spoke of the threats posed by climate change and terrorism, and called for common resolve in confronting the refugee crisis.  

But some of his strongest admonitions dealt with North Korea and its nuclear program – and how the world responds to it. “We must not sleepwalk our way into war,” Guterres said, calling for statesmanship to rein in North Korea’s mercurial leader, .

Kim has repeatedly directed apocalyptic threats toward the United States and American allies such as South Korea and Japan. But Trump has also rattled some world leaders with talk of “fire and fury” that could be directed at the North.

The Portuguese secretary-general, who took the reins at the U.N. earlier this year, called for unity in the face of an array of threats, and spoke out against “those who demonize and divide.”

“Societies are fragmented; political discourse is polarized,” Guterres said. “We are a world in pieces – we need to be a world at peace.”

North Korea Sept. 19, 2017, 6:13 a.m. Beijing

Why China’s is missing from the U.N. General Assembly

Jessica MeyersChinese President Xi Jinping (Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)

One of the most vocal defenders of globalization and talks with North Korea is sitting out the world’s biggest gathering devoted to them.   

Chinese President Xi Jinping is not expected to attend the United Nations General Assembly this week, where heads of state will contemplate issues key to the nation — including how to respond to the reclusive state and the future of the Paris climate agreement.

The absence is surprising for a leader who has pushed a more assertive, globally engaged China.

Xi arrived at his first U.N. assembly in 2015 with a gift of 8,000 peacekeeping troops and a $1-billion pledge for peace and development. This time, Chinese officials said only that Wang Yi, the foreign minister, is leading a delegation. State media have barely mentioned the event.

Russian President Vladimir Putin , although a spokesman made it clear he’s opted to attend  with Belarus.

The answer to Xi’s nonappearance may lie with the country’s complex internal politics. The U.N. session comes a month before China’s twice-a-decade . This year is especially important because it is expected to replace about half of the country’s top leadership and reveal the full extent of Xi’s influence. The Congress marks the halfway point of his term, and some analysts expect he will try to stay in power.

There are indications that major party leadership spots “are still up for grabs,” said Willy Lam, a leading China expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “So it’s imperative Xi Jinping stay in Beijing and not allow his enemies to pick up momentum when he’s away.”

Officials have worked to ward off drama ahead of the meetings, from clamping down on investment abroad to banning television shows during prime time that appear “too entertaining.”

Xi’s presence at the session could toss uncertainty into these final few weeks. That’s heightened by President Trump’s on Tuesday and tensions surrounding China’s role in stemming the nuclear ambitions of North Korea.

“Beijing doesn’t want to be the target of multiple countries and multiple countries’ media pointing their fingers at China,” Lam said.

Xi, in some regards, already had his moment. He addressed the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva in January and portrayed China as a global leader committed to climate change. On that same visit, he gave a robust defense of free trade at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

And even if Xi is not physically present, his phone conversation on Monday with Trump signaled continued engagement. 

Foreign Minister Yi “will give a full account of China’s stances and propositions on the international landscape,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said last week. 

He intends to work with other U.N. members, he added, to “uphold world peace and stability.” 

Sept. 19, 2017, 6:55 a.m.

Watch with us: Trump delivers first address to U.N. General Assembly

Los Angeles Times Staff

President Trump will soon deliver his first address to the full United Nations General Assembly, an annual meeting that draws diplomats and leaders from 193 countries.

World leaders who are puzzled by his “America First” doctrine will get one of their most detailed looks at his foreign policy philosophy.

Sept. 19, 2017, 3:30 a.m.

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The nuclear threat from North Korea and the plight of Myanmar’s minority Muslims are among the many intractable challenges confronting world leaders as they begin high-level talks at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

President Trump, who makes his debut before the world body at 10:30 a.m., is attracting much of the attention from diplomats anxious to know what his “America first” approach will mean for international institutions and alliances that have been a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy for decades.  

Trump has made his disdain known for what he regards as a that relies too heavily on the generosity of the U.S.  And his administration has staked out positions that are at odds with the U.N. on key issues such as climate change and the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

But he is one of more than 100 heads of state and government expected to deliver speeches and take part in the meetings this week at U.N. headquarters in New York. Here are some of the issues that are expected to take up a majority of their attention:

Sept. 18, 2017, 5:46 p.m. Reporting from the United Nations

British foreign secretary calls violence against Rohingya Muslims a ‘stain’ on Myanmar’s reputation

Associated Press(Allison Joyce / Getty Images)

The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, which U.N. officials have described as ethnic cleansing, is getting early attention at the annual gathering of government leaders at the world body.

Britain on Monday presided over a meeting of several Western and Muslim-majority governments that are urging senior Myanmar officials to end the violence and allow humanitarian access.

More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the past month amid a military crackdown triggered by insurgent attacks on security posts in late August.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the violence is a “stain” on Myanmar’s reputation, and it’s vital that and her civilian government make clear the abuses “must stop.”

The closed meeting was also attended by representatives of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and the United States.

President Trump Sept. 18, 2017, 4:23 p.m. New York

Protest fatigue keeps anti-Trump protests subdued

Barbara DemickAnti-Trump protest in New York as the U.N. General Assembly convenes. (Barbara Demick/Los Angeles Times)

Rise. Resist. Protest and persist.

That’s at least what the signs implored at a rush-hour demonstration Monday evening at New York’s Grand Central Terminal. But fewer New Yorkers are heeding the call to action. At what was supposed to be the first big protest against Donald Trump’s appearance in the city, fewer than 1,000 protesters attended.

“It’s kind of like battle fatigue. People are worn out,’’ said Judy Cuttler, an Iowa-born artist who said she first came to New York in 1969 to protest the Vietnam War.  With Trump back in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, she had been expecting big protests against his presence. “I couldn’t find any so I came here,’’ said Cuttler, who had joined the modest crowd in a march against white supremacy.

Demonstration organizers said, however, they expect crowds to pick up later in the week with events planned almost every day of the U.N. gathering. Richard Rice Alan, a professional entertainer who was marching in a top hat and suit plastered with slogans comparing Trump to Hitler, said people were not so much worn out as regrouping.

“I myself had to pull back for a while. I had to get my rage under control,’’ he said.

Even a pro-Trump demonstrator, who tried to heckle the protesters, seemed disappointed by the lackluster showing.  He darted between the demonstrators, planting himself directly in their path — waving his Trump 2020 flag so close in people’s faces that he almost hit a few.

Nobody bothered to pick a fight.

IranPresident Trump Sept. 18, 2017, 3:58 p.m. Washington

White House says Trump and Netanyahu agree on need to counter Iran’s ‘malign influence’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces reporters before a meeting with President Trump. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump, meeting in New York on Monday, discussed the two leaders’ shared aim of “countering Iran’s malign influence in the region,” the White House said.

Trump and Netanyahu have previously bonded over mistrust toward Iran. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump denounced the landmark 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers as a terrible deal. Netanyahu had lobbied vehemently against , irritating the then- administration by using a speech to both houses of Congress to make his case.

But Trump has softened his stance somewhat since taking office. Over the summer, his administration grudgingly declared that Tehran was in technical compliance with the accord, but that determination must be made every three months and is next due in mid-October.

Netanyahu took an upbeat tone in a post-meeting tweet. “Was great meeting with you today,” he told Trump on Twitter. “Together we are bringing the US-Israel alliance to even greater heights.”

The White House said the two sides “discussed their continued cooperation across a range of issues and stressed their goals of countering Iran’s malign influence in the region and resolving the Syria crisis in a manner consistent with American and Israeli security interests.”

Without giving details, the statement said the two “also discussed their continuing efforts to achieve an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, the optimism in the region about peace, and expanding economic opportunities to improve conditions for peace.”

Those hopes for a regional buy-in for the peace process are in line with the U.S. position when Trump traveled to Israel in May and met with Netanyahu, but Israel’s Arab neighbors are very unlikely to sign on to a renewed peace effort that does not include concrete steps such as a halt to Jewish settlement-building.  

Little pressure toward that end appears forthcoming from Washington. The White House statement said the president had promised Netanyahu to shield Israel against “unfair treatment” at the United Nations, which has repeatedly denounced settlement expansion.

As president-elect, Trump had expressed outrage in December when the outgoing Obama administration declined to exercise its veto power to block a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a halt to Israel’s settlement activity on Palestinian lands.

Later in the week, Trump is to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas. The two had a less-than-cordial encounter during Trump’s visit to the region in May.

IranPresident Trump Sept. 18, 2017, 3:11 p.m. Jerusalem

Netanyahu would like to pull back the Iran nuclear agreement. But will he get what he wants?

Noga TarnopolskyPresident Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

With his eye on domestic politics, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to New York this week hoping to return home with a promise that the U.S. president will attempt to “modify” the 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program, Israeli sources said.

Netanyahu was also hoping to avoid the subject of peace talks with the Palestinians.

But the Israeli and American leaders seemed to come to their meeting Monday in New York, their third encounter this year, with different agendas.

Trump has until Oct. 15 to notify Congress whether Iran is living up to its commitments under the deal, which was spearheaded by President Obama in an attempt to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu is an implacable opponent of the agreement, and Trump is certainly no proponent — as a presidential candidate, he termed it “a terrible deal.”

But even if the United States were to pull out of the pact, any modification would require an agreement from the other five signatories, which include China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Trump on Monday seemed eager to change the subject.

“We are going to discuss peace between Israel and the Palestinians; it will be a fantastic achievement,” Trump said during a brief media event before meeting privately with Netanyahu for an hour.

“We are giving it [an] absolute go — there is a good chance it could happen. Most people would say there is no chance whatsoever, but I think that with the ability of Bibi and the other side — I really think we have a chance,” Trump said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

In a manner of a response to the president, the prime minister said, “Peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and peace between Israel and the Arab world, go together.”

It is a formulation Netanyahu uses often, implying there can be no peace negotiations with the Palestinians until Israel is recognized by the Arab world as a whole.

Despite this position, Netanyahu has by and large ignored the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia that would normalize ties between Arab states and Israel in exchange for a total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, which Israel has ruled since 1967.

reported from New York that “Netanyahu and his staff have insisted in recent days that his meeting with Trump would focus on Iran, and he seemed a bit surprised by the president’s remarks.”

Israeli political analyst Ron Ben-Yishai suggested that Netanyahu’s demand was no more than “Israeli spin.”

“In the current state of affairs, there’s absolutely no chance the nuclear agreement with Iran would be cancelled, and there’s no chance the United States would walk away from the agreement,” he . “There’s a simple reason for that: None of the countries and international organizations that signed the agreement have an interest in violating it.”

Trump said he expected to have a response regarding Iran “very soon.”


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