Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan urges US President Donald Trump to engage in talks with Iran rather than retaining his current antagonistic stance towards the Islamic Republic.
Trump has adopted an invariably harsh tone when talking about Tehran, calling it the “number one terrorist state” and criticizing his predecessor Barack Obama for being too soft on Iran.
During his recent Middle East tour, the new US president endorsed Saudi Arabia and Israel’s long-drawn-out practice of Iranophobia.
Washington agreed to sell the kingdom USD 110 billion worth of arms to “counter” Iran. The Trump administration has also leveled sanctions against the country over its defensive missile work, which Iran asserts only serves the purpose of deterrence.
“It is important to reach out and talk to Iran,” Annan told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“Iran is part of the solution” to the conflicts in the Middle East, including Syria and Iraq, and “we cannot get away from that fact,” he added.
Iran has been lending military advisory support to the Syrian and Iraqi counterterrorism operations. It has also been trying successfully alongside Russia, another Syria ally, and Turkey, which backs anti-Damascus militants, to bring the warring sides in Syria to the negotiating table.
Annan said what justified an open approach towards Iran was its reaching out to the world by clinching the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.
The former UN chief described the nuclear agreement as “good” and welcomed the re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a key architect of the deal “as a sign that the Iranian people clearly desire peaceful relations with the outside world.”
Trump has described the agreement, which was negotiated under the Obama administration, as the “worst deal ever” and threatened to “tear it up” during his election campaign late last year.
Annan added that Washington’s posturing, including labeling Iran the enemy and a purveyor of terrorism, is not going to contribute to the realization of peace in the region in any way.
“What is required is steps which diffuse tensions and divisions, and not steps which deepen divisions,” he said. “And we need to be very careful of what action we take, what we say, because words can soothe, they can calm but they can also provoke and they can also excite.”
Annan also recalled Trump’s comments on the possibility of a meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.
“Iran has shown more discipline and responsibility than North Korea,” he said. “I can’t understand why he can’t go to Iran, a nation that by signing the agreement is also trying to open up and reach out to the broader world — and that should be encouraged rather than be pushed the other way.”