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1ST LEAD Macron pleads for multilateralism as Trump focuses on sovereignty By Pol O Gradaigh, dpa

Europe
19.09.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - French President Emmanuel Macron made his debut as a European heavyweight at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, providing a sharp contrast to the combative rhetoric of US President Donald Trump with his call for a multilateral approach to world crises.

After Trump described the Iran nuclear deal as an "embarrassment" to the US and refused to commit to the international Paris accord on limiting global warming, Macron extolled the virtues of both agreements.

Elected in May on a centrist, pro-European platform, Macron warned that pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, as Trump has threatened to do, would be a "grave error."

The deal was "solid, robust and verifiable and has provided a guarantee that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon," Macron said, comparing it with the absence of dialogue around North Korea‘s nuclear programme.

"To denounce it today without proposing anything else would be a grave error," Macron said.

Macron nevertheless called for extensions to the deal to "provide a framework" for Iran‘s rocket programme and for the period after its expiry in 2025.

Speaking at a press conference after his speech, the French leader said those proposals were intended to address concerns expressed by Trump and by Middle Eastern states worried about Iran‘s role in the region.

But, he told journalists, "if we bring down this accord, it is replaced by nothing, and the nothing we have tried out is the situation in North Korea."

Trump dedicated a significant portion of his General Assembly address to North Korea, threatening the isolated regime of Kim Jong Un that the US would have "no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" if forced to defend itself or its allies.

Macron pleaded for multilateral action on the issue.

"Our responsibility, with all our partners in China and Russia, is to use firmness to bring [North Korea] back to the negotiating table for a political resolution of the crisis," Macron said.

"France will reject all escalation and will not close any door to dialogue if the conditions are there for that dialogue to be useful to peace," he added.

Macron later criticized Trump‘s approach. "I think it is untimely, in the proper sense of the word, to put forward the threat of a response by war," he told reporters after his address.

On Syria, Macron called for the establishment of a contact group to pursue a political solution to the conflict and made it clear that despite his previous statements that the departure of President Bashar al-Assad could not be a pre-condition, a political solution required "transition."

He criticized the Astana talks that have effectively replaced a failing UN-brokered peace process in Geneva with Russian-led negotiations involving the Syrian parties, Turkey and Iran.

The Astana process, which has brought about a series of local ceasefires, "may today be useful but it is not adequate," Macron argued.

Describing Myanmar‘s crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority as "ethnic cleansing," he called for military operations to stop and promised a French initiative in the Security Council.

Macron also returned to the charge on a favourite topic that has seen him differ very publicly with Trump: the dangers of climate change.

"The future of mankind is the future of our planet, which is now avenging itself for the foolishness of men," Macron said. "Nature is calling us to order ... It will not negotiate."

Macron, who said earlier he was convinced Trump would eventually see that the Paris climate accord was in America‘s own interests, said he respected Trump‘s decision to back away from the accord and that the door would always be open for the US to rejoin.

"We will continue to work with all governments, with local administrations, cities, businesses, NGOs, and citizens of the world to implement the Paris accord," Macron said.

 

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