The world will view Tillerson's meeting with Zarif with interest
US-Iran meeting will be one to watch
The debate around the Trump administration's policy towards Tehran continues, as the international community awaits this week's meeting between US secretary of state Rex Tillerson and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
While Barack Obama's foreign policy legacy was largely shaped by the signing of the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015, Mr Trump has adopted an aggressive approach as he seeks to unpick the deal. According to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, “the only entity that can confirm Iran’s commitment to its obligations is the International Atomic Energy Agency and according to its reports, the Islamic Republic has complied with all of its obligations”. Preserving the agreement serves the interests of all parties, but this will clearly require a more subtle diplomatic approach by the Trump administration.
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The deal has been denounced for its flaws. It may have contributed to some de-escalation of tensions, but other matters have surfaced to put it at risk. Defying the US and the international community, Iran recently announced a plan to boost its missile power through a ballistic missile programme. In June, Tehran launched mid-range ballistic missiles targeting Deir Ezzor in Syria, and though its intention was to target ISIL, this step carried a symbolic weight, sending a message to the US after the senate passed a bill to impose sanctions on individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
Furthermore, Iran’s interventionist foreign policy has unsettled the region’s stability only weeks after Mr Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The US is not the only party expected to work on safekeeping the deal. Iran’s policy in the Middle East has angered several of the signatories. The distrust that is at work in relations between and Iran and European signatories could complicate this week's interactions.
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