An overview of Amir Abdollahian’s intensive talks in New York

September 28, 2021 - 21:18

TEHRAN – New Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his diplomatic team spent five intensive working days in New York to elaborate on Iran's new foreign policy approaches.

Amir-Abdollahian held about 50 meetings with counterparts and officials from international institutions on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting.

His meetings were so intense and frequent that he himself told IRNA before leaving New York that "indeed, if it were possible for me to stay in New York for another two or three days, some of the meetings will still be scheduled. I would not be able to make these appointments due to time constraints, and we followed up on some of them over the phone and on the sidelines of the meeting."

Although the Covid-19 imposed restrictions on the presence and number of foreign delegations, it was a good opportunity for many officials to have their own consultations.

Many countries wanted to hear about the policy of the new Iranian administration from its chief diplomat in order to regulate their relations on that basis and then decide.

The 57-year-old foreign minister, who is known for his kindness and sobriety in words and behavior, treated all his counterparts and international officials with tenderness, eloquence and great patience. 

Sometimes his appointments were longer than the scheduled time; sometimes he had to take a short break after a few appointments, or his visits continued uninterruptedly until late at night.

Amir-Abdollahian was sometimes invited to meet with his counterparts at the residence of ambassadors to the United Nations; sometimes the meetings took place at the United Nations and sometimes at the hotel where he was staying. He preferred to walk to nearby places.

He even had meetings in the last hours of his stay in New York with the foreign ministers of Iraq and Algeria. The meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein began with warmth and diplomatic jokes. 

The new Iranian Foreign Minister was accompanied in the meetings by Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other diplomats.

This year, the corridors, like the UN compound, were filled with security officers.  Police were closely monitoring the security situation as well as health protocols due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, the discussions with foreign dignitaries revolved around several important issues. The most important point at the talks was the need to develop international trade and economic cooperation.

Another serious topic was about how to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This issue was raised in meetings with the UN Secretary-General, a number of European foreign ministers - including those from France, Germany and Britain - and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. 

The minister also said that he explicitly complained about the behavior of Washington, especially in a closed meeting with directors of American think tanks and professors of international relations in the United States.

Amir-Abdollahian said Iran would judge the United States on the basis of its behavior and not words. He noted the conflicting messages, which are transmitted to Iran through media or diplomatic channels, would not be the criterion for Iran's final decision.

In addition to meeting with the President of Iraq and director of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) , Amir-Abdollahian also met with his counterparts from Spain, Ireland, Belarus, Venezuela, Syria, Britain, Namibia, Turkey and Hungary on the anniversary of the Durban Declaration.

In addition to meeting with UN General Assembly President Abdullah Shahid and UN Special Envoy for Syria, he met with counterparts from Italy, Denmark, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nigeria, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Singapore, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, and Belgium.

The top diplomat also met separately with the American media and think tanks to explain about the Iranian government's new policies and approaches, as well as to hear their views and answer questions.

Amir-Abdollahian and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres discussed issues of mutual interest, including the JCPOA and regional issues including Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Palestine.

In the meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Guterres pointed to the principled position of the United Nations in rejecting the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, said that he has always supported the nuclear agreement.

The UN chief also called Iran's position on Afghanistan “principled” and said an inclusive government should be formed in Afghanistan so that all groups have a voice in the government.

Recalling that UN consultations and cooperation with Iran on regional issues such as the Yemen crisis, the Secretary-General said that the UN welcomes broader cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

In the meeting with the UN chief, Amir-Abdollahian also said: "The United States uses sanctions and terrorism against nations for its political goals, the most obvious example of which was the cowardly assassination of General Soleimani."

Stressing that the united voice of the United Nations is necessary in the face of such heinous acts, the Foreign Minister stated: "Of course, Iran is pursuing the issue at national and international levels to bring the perpetrators of the assassination of General Soleimani and his companions to justice." He suggested the UN can play a significant role in this respect.

In his meeting with UN General Assembly President Abdullah Shahid, Amir-Abdollahian said terrorism has spread all across the world. 

The top Iranian diplomat said the United States is one of the most visible manifestations of such a terrorism. 

The assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani by the United States on the Iraqi soil is the most concrete example of terrorism, Iran’s foreign minister said. 

Donald Trump ordered the assassination of General Soleimani, a legendary anti-terror commander, near Baghdad’s international airport in early January 2020. 

FM asks UN to strengthen unilateralism 

Pointing to the constructive role of the Islamic Republic in collaborating with regional governments to confront terrorism in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, the foreign minister noted that Tehran expects the UN General Assembly to strengthen multilateralism in the face of the U.S. unilateralism and disrespect for international law.

"Sanctions have become a terrorist tool against nations, and the General Assembly is expected to confront U.S. unilateralism and lawlessness by strengthening multilateralism," the chief diplomat remarked.

He lamented that the United States, despite its rhetoric, has spread economic terrorism to medical terrorism, and stressed the need for a serious response from the international community to such act.

Abdullah Shahid described multilateralism as the only path forward, arguing that the UN is the best mechanism to enhance multilateralism.

He called the United Nations and the General Assembly the best mechanism ever built on multilateralism, and stressed that the General Assembly would do its utmost to succeed in its missions.

Economic diplomacy of Raisi administration

Proposals for a new round of joint cooperation commissions between countries, even with non-neighboring countries, and regional issues such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria featured high in most of the foreign ministers' talks at the UN.

Examining the volume of economic and trade exchanges between Iran and other countries, promoting trade relations, presence of leading Iranian knowledge-based companies in other countries, strengthening the private sector and facilitating travel between countries were other topics discussed by the foreign minister with other countries. 

The new Iranian administration's interest in establishing balanced relations with various countries, including Europeans, and emphasizing the expansion of cooperation in various fields such as environment, renewable energy, medicine, veterinary and healthcare were other topics.

"I am very optimistic that the future is bright," Amir-Abdollahian told IRNA in New York, noting that economic relations would strengthen and move forward at a good pace, and "we will see its effects inside the country."

Also, in his talks with counterparts from neighboring and regional countries, he said: "In the talks we had with the countries of the region …, I felt that a new atmosphere has been created. The countries of the region tend to work with more motivation than in the past with a new administration and a new approach in which its neighbors are prioritized.

Therefore, I think there are new opportunities for us and the countries of the region."

Referring to the visit of President Ebrahim Raisi to Tajikistan and Iran's membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he said: "In neighboring countries, they feel that the slogan and approach of the new Iranian administration to its neighbors is real, and part of it has been implemented by the president, and they are interested in developing their relations with Iran."

The foreign minister said that the Iranian private sector was ready to set up a business center in Bishkek. In addition to the business sector, leading Iranian knowledge-based companies could also be located in the center, he said.

Meeting with his German counterpart on JCPOA 

In a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Amir-Abdollahian discussed the foreign policy priorities of the new Iranian administration, the JCPOA and the continuation of the Vienna talks. He stressed that the talks should have tangible outcomes.

"The Iranian people rightly expect that the economic benefits of the JCPOA, which have not been realized due to the negligence of the other parties, would be guaranteed this time."

Iran has announced that that nuclear talks for reviving the JCPOA will be resumed soon. However, it has been insisting that the talks must lead to tangible results.

"The United States should know that all trade-offs were made once in the JCPOA negotiations, and therefore the Vienna talks are not for a new agreement but to ensure the full and guaranteed return of the United States to its obligations under the JCPOA and Resolution 2231. Unfortunately, what we witness in the policies of the current U.S. administration is the continuation of the Trump administration's approach to imposing illegal sanctions."

The new foreign minister called various European excuses for not fulfilling their obligations “unacceptable” and suggested that the other sides should come to Vienna with the necessary flexibility and understanding of the new condition created by the new administration in Iran.

In a meeting with his German counterpart, he announced Tehran's readiness to design relations independent of the JCPOA, and said that Iran-Germany economic and trade relations were not satisfactory at all and that it was necessary to find a way to improve them.

The German Foreign Minister, for his part, said that Berlin is committed to the Iran nuclear deal and will make every effort to preserve and revive it. 
Welcoming the Iran-IAEA agreement and the IAEA Director-General Grossi's visit to Tehran, Maas stressed the need for all parties to work for the success of the Vienna talks.

Such approach toward the JCPOA must change

Amir-Abdollahian’s talks his new British counterpart Liz Truss also focused on bilateral issues, the JCPOA and the situation in Afghanistan.
Stating that a reconstruction of bilateral relations requires serious measures, the Iranian side stressed the need for a repayment of Britain's four-decade-long debt to Iran.

Amir-Abdollahian also said Iran has just heard promises by the Europeans to keep the JCPOA alive, but has not seen anything in action. "Unfortunately, Britain is also part of this inaction and this approach must change."

Iran's foreign minister stressed that Britain needs to pay attention to the fact that fulfilling its obligations is the only way to rebuild relations, and that Tehran will respond appropriately to any positive and constructive step.

Pursuing the issue of Iranian nationals detained by certain Western countries as well as the issue of prisoners who hold dual nationality featured in the meeting between the new Iranian and British foreign ministers.

The British Foreign Secretary also stated that her country is ready to repay its debts to Iran.

Referring to the nuclear deal, Truss said now the main issue is the time to start the negotiations to revive it.


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