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Three Key UNGA Meetings We Won't See

Three Key UNGA Meetings We Won't See

The speeches may be boring, but the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) allows world leaders the chance, if they want it, to meet one-on-one to talk about sensitive topics. Crossing paths in UN corridors allows for freer conversation than formal bilateral summits with all their protocols and political pitfalls.


Unfortunately, as the 74th installment of the UNGA gets under way, we have to note three potential encounters that aren't happening this week, and one meeting that probably shouldn't. Read the full list here.

1. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and his US counterpart Donald Trump. This was always a long shot, but it become a stratospheric reach after Iran evidently blew up Saudi Arabia's main oil facilities last week. Trump, who had talked up the potential for a chat multiple times, quickly changed his tune. That's too bad, because regional tensions, and the threat of a US-Iran war, won't cool themselves.

2. South Korea and Japan. These two East Asian powers are locked in a growing trade spat rooted in unresolved grievances about Japanese actions during World War II. And yet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are not, in fact, expected to meet this week. These are two of the world's largest economies, and they're now locked in a fight with losers on both sides.

3. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and India's Narendra Modi. After Modi abruptly stripped Kashmir of the autonomy it has enjoyed for 70 years just last month, Khan compared him to Hitler. It's never encouraging when these two nuclear-armed neighbors talk at, rather than with, one another.

The meeting that is happening but maybe shouldn't: Trump will meet with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he has allegedly (and perhaps impeachably) pressured to probe the Ukrainian business dealings of the son of US presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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