Trump won’t meet Putin on Iran before presidential polls: O'Brien

August 17, 2020 - 15:12

TEHRAN — U.S. President Donald Trump will not have an in-person summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the presidential elections, Trump’s national security adviser Robert O'Brien announced on Sunday.

“We’ve rejected that,” O'Brien said when asked of such a meeting during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

O'Brien also said that the Russians are proposing a summit with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members to try to “bully” the U.S. back into the Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Trump walked away from in May 2018.

Trump said on Saturday that he did not want to participate in a virtual summit on Iran.

It came after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a summit of world leaders to decrease Iran tensions.

In a statement on Friday, Putin proposed an online summit with the U.S., Britain, France, China, Germany and Iran in a bid to avoid “confrontation and escalation” at the UN.

“The issue is urgent,” the Russian president said, adding that the alternative was “only further escalation of tensions, increasing risk of conflict - such a scenario must be avoided.”

Earlier on Friday, the United States’ efforts to extend an arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran ended in a humiliating defeat at the UN Security Council, as 13 out of 15 members of the Council did not support its anti-Iran resolution.

Only two of the Council's 15 members voted in favor, highlighting the division between Washington and its European allies since Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord in May 2018.

Following Washington’s failure at the UN Security Council, Trump announced that he intends to trigger the snapback mechanism, which would reimpose international sanctions against Iran at the United Nations.

O‘Brien said on Friday the refusal of France, Germany and Britain to back Washington at the UN Security Council was “disappointing but not surprising”.

“We lost today but it’s not over yet,” O‘Brien said in an interview with Fox News Channel.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has announced that Putin’s proposal to hold an online summit remains on the table.

“Of course, yes,” Ryabkov said on Sunday when asked whether the initiative is still on the table after Trump’s refusal to participate.

China and France have welcomed the Russian initiative, voicing readiness to take part in the summit.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, China welcomes the summit and appreciate Moscow’s attempts towards de-escalating tensions around the JCPOA.

Beijing consistently supports the nuclear agreement and is dedicated to preserving peace and stability in the Middle East, he said during a briefing on Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he is open to taking part in the seven-way virtual summit.

“We confirm our availability in principle,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement. “We have already taken initiatives in the same spirit in the past.”

MH/PA

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