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Trump UN speech - President laughed at by world leaders as he boasts of achievements amid condemnation of Iran

First appearance before intergovernmental organisation after Washington cut refugee aid funding

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
,Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 25 September 2018 21:24 BST
UN General Assembly laughs as Donald Trump touts his achievements

Donald Trump has asserted American sovereignty - rejecting “global governance, control and domination” - in an address to the UN General Assembly.

Mr Trump said the United States will never tell other nations how to live, work or worship. But the president added the United States expects other nations to “honour America's sovereignty in return.”

The president arrived late, forcing a last-minute scheduling switch, then received polite applause but also blank stares as he took his blustery brand of “America First” policies to the annual General Assembly.

Donald Trump says US wants UN to ‘respect its sovereignty’

Speaking in triumphal terms, Mr Trump approached the address as an annual report to the world on his country's progress since his inauguration. He crowed that in “less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

Rather than applaud or indicate they were impressed, the audience began to chuckle and some broke into outright laughter. Mr Trump appeared briefly flustered before joking that it was not the reaction he expected but “that's all right.”

The moment only reinforced Mr Trump's isolation among allies and foes alike, as his nationalistic policies have created rifts with erstwhile partners and cast doubt in some circles about the reliability of American commitments around the world.

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Troubles at home overshadow US president's speech

Appearances on the global stage tend to elevate the stature of presidents both abroad and at home. But even before his arrival for the annual bonanza of world leaders and diplomats, the desired image was muddied by confusion in Washington. 

The fate of his second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was cast into fresh doubt over the weekend after a second allegation of sexual misconduct.

Drama also swirled Monday around the status of his deputy attorney general. Rod Rosenstein was reported last week to have floated the idea of secretly recording Trump last year and to have raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

The man overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe and a frequent target of Trump's ire offered to resign and fully expected Monday to be fired. He received a stay of punishment at least until Thursday, when he is to meet with Trump at the White House. AP

More on the controversy surrounding Mr Kavanaugh here:  

Harriet Agerholm25 September 2018 10:59

President expected to promote his North Korea strategy

A year ago, Mr Trump stood at the international rostrum and derided the North Korean leader as “Little Rocket Man” and threatened to “totally destroy North Korea”. 

“It was a different world,” Mr Trump said on Monday of his one-time moniker for the North Korean leader. “That was a dangerous time. This is one year later, a much different time.” 

Mr Trump praised Mr Kim as “very open” and “terrific”, despite the sluggish pace of progress toward denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered a personal message to Mr Trump from Mr Kim after their inter-Korean talks last week in Pyongyang. 

“You are the only person who can solve this problem,” Mr Moon said to Mr Trump, relaying Mr Kim's words. 

The president said the location for a second summit with Mr Kim is still to be determined, but officials have said Mr Trump is holding out hope it could take place on American soil. Such a move would present a complex political and logistical challenge for the North Korean leader.

Mr Trump has often fondly invoked the Singapore summit, a made-for-TV event that attracted the world's media attention and largely received positive marks from cable pundits — reviews that were not repeated for his summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Helsinki the following month. 

Mr Trump and Mr Moon on Monday signed a new version of the US-South Korean trade agreement, marking one of Mr Trump's first successes in his effort to renegotiate economic deals on more favorable terms for the US.

Mr Trump labelled it a “very big deal” and said the new agreement makes significant improvements to reduce the trade deficit between the countries and create opportunities to export American products to South Korea. AP

More on this story here: 

Harriet Agerholm25 September 2018 11:19

Icy Washington-Tehran relations continue

The top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader on Tuesday rejected a US offer for top-level meetings, as both countries' presidents were due to attend the UN General Assembly in New York.

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards also kept up the anti-US rhetoric in the build up to the UN session, calling President Donald Trump "evil and adventurous" and accusing him of waging economic war on Tehran.

Mr Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran in May, and has since started reinstating economic penalties and pressing other countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

Mr Trump said in July he was ready to meet Iran's President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions to negotiate a new deal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated the offer on Sunday and expanded it to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, telling Fox News: "That's who's running the show in Iran. I think that would be an important and interesting conversation."

President Rouhani, seen as a moderate, has stopped short of ruling out meetings between the two countries. But he has come under increasing pressure from hardliners, including the Guards, since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord.

Asked about the offer of talks, Khamenei's top aide, Ali Akbar Velayati, said "Trump's and Pompeo's dream would never come to reality," according to the IRNA news agency.

The Revolutionary Guards' statement read: "The evil and adventurous American president has focused on an economic war and cruel sanctions to deviate the Iranian nation from the revolutionary values and its national interests."

Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief in the 2015 nuclear accord. Trump pulled out, saying the agreement did not go far enough.

But the other countries that signed it – who think the pact offers the best chance of stopping Iran developing a nuclear bomb – agreed on Monday to keep working to maintain trade with Tehran.

Separately, the Guards also said the Saturday attack on a military parade that killed 25 people was a miscalculation by the enemies as this crime has only made the Iranian nation more united.

Iran accused the United States of supporting the assailants who carried out the attack, but Washington has denied any prior knowledge of the incident. AP

Harriet Agerholm25 September 2018 12:37

In a further twist in relations between Iran and the US, Mr Trump has implied President Rouhani asked for a meeting with him, but he rejected it.

"Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning, ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. 

Iran swiftly denied having made such a request. 

Harriet Agerholm25 September 2018 12:46

The UN General Assembly debate has officially begun. The room remained silent for a minute in memory of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who recently passed away. 

Current Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is presenting his programme of work right now. 

Mythili Sampathkumar25 September 2018 14:05

Our world is suffering from a bad case of 'trust deficit disorder,' Mr Guterres said. 

"Cooperation is less certain and more difficult...and trust in global governance is fragile," he noted. 

He also said "multilateralism is under fire" at a time when the world may need it most. 

It may be seen as a veiled criticism of Donald Trump's consistent assessment of the UN as a toothless world body. He also once called it a "good time club". 

Mythili Sampathkumar25 September 2018 14:09

"Those who close their borders to regular immigration, only fuel the work of traffickers," Mr Guterres said. 

Mythili Sampathkumar25 September 2018 14:14

Mr Guterres is now speaking about the urgency of the need to address climate change

"We as a community of world leaders are not doing enough. We must listen to the earth's best scientists...we must guarantee the implementation of the Paris Agreement". 

Mr Trump began the withdrawal process for the US to leave the global climate agreement signed in 2015 in an attempt to curb global carbon emissions and contain global warming to 2 C. 

"Climate action could add $26bn to the global company," the Secretary-General advised. 

"Green business is good business," he said, again addressing a point of contention between Mr Trump and the world. 

Mythili Sampathkumar25 September 2018 14:18

Mr Guterres is now discussing cyber crime. 

Mythili Sampathkumar25 September 2018 14:24

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to make an appearance in New York this week to lobby for the release of UK citizen Nazanin Ratcliffe, jailed in Iran. 

Mythili Sampathkumar25 September 2018 14:29

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