ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump struck out Tuesday against globalism, maintaining that the world would be better off if nations pursued their own self-interest while at the same time calling for a united front against Iran.
Trump told world leaders they must embrace nationalism because "the truth is plain to see."
"The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and unique,” Trump said during the 74th General Assembly at the UN's New York headquarters.
"Globalism exerted a religious pull over past leaders causing them to ignore their own national interests. Those days are over," he added.
But turning to Iran, Trump urged the world to fall behind the U.S. in his administration's bid to heap pressure on Tehran, whom he accused of fueling "tragic wars" in Yemen and Syria.
Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from an international pact aimed at curtailing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief in a so-far futile bid to bring the Islamic Republic back to the negotiating table. Those talks, Trump maintains, would lead to a new pact that would address issues not originally included in the agreement he considers to be "destabilizing."
Trump took the action in May 2018 despite objections from all of the other signatories to the agreement -- the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the EU -- all of whom warned that taking the action would lead to increased regional tensions.
Those predictions materialized as the Trump administration has in the interim taken successive efforts to reimpose sanctions lifted under the agreement, as well as additional new economic measures against Iran. The economic penalties were met with stiff resistance from Iran, who has itself taken measures to step back from an agreement it says it can no longer benefit economically from.
Mysterious attacks in the Strait of Hormuz and in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. blames on Iran, but which Iran denies having a hand in, have also disrupted global energy flows.
“No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s bloodlust," Trump told world leaders, maintaining that "as long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened.”
"Iran's leaders will have turned a proud nation into just another cautionary tale," he said.
Speculation had been mounting that Trump may meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of this week's General Assembly in a bid to reduce tensions, but those expectations were tempered after Washington imposed sanctions on its central bank last Friday.
Neither side has completely ruled out a meeting, and Trump told the UN that the U.S. "has never believed in permanent enemies; we want partners, not adversaries," but a diplomatic breakthrough seems unlikely at best.
On Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been engaged in its longest war for the past 18 years, Trump said the Taliban "has chosen to continue their savage attacks," vowing to continue working "with our coalition of Afghan partners to stamp out terrorism."
"We will never stop working to make peace a reality," Trump said while at the same time bemoaning "endless wars."
U.S. talks with the Taliban to begin the process of withdrawing U.S. forces broke down earlier this month when a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban took the lives of a dozen people, including a U.S. soldier from Puerto Rico.
Trump has since called off a previously secret summit that was to take place at the presidential retreat at Camp David, and said negotiations are finished.
The president further heaped criticism on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, accusing the Latin American leader of being a "Cuban puppet," whom he said is hiding from his own people amid a U.S.-led effort to oust him from power.
The U.S. no longer recognizes Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela, instead throwing its weight behind opposition leader Juan Guaido whom it recognizes as the country's interim president.