Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump, meeting in New York on Monday, discussed the two leaders’ shared aim of “countering Iran’s malign influence in the region,” the White House said.
Trump and Netanyahu have previously bonded over mistrust toward Iran. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump denounced the landmark 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers as a terrible deal. Netanyahu had lobbied vehemently against the agreement, irritating the then-Obama administration by using a speech to both houses of Congress to make his case.
But Trump has softened his stance somewhat since taking office. Over the summer, his administration grudgingly declared that Tehran was in technical compliance with the accord, but that determination must be made every three months and is next due in mid-October.
With his eye on domestic politics, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to New York this week hoping to return home with a promise that the U.S. president will attempt to “modify” the 2015 deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program, Israeli sources said.
Netanyahu was also hoping to avoid the subject of peace talks with the Palestinians.
But the Israeli and American leaders seemed to come to their meeting Monday in New York, their third encounter this year, with different agendas.
The day after Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrived in New York to join world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, the U.N. demanded the release of an Iranian American businessman and his father, who are being detained in Iran.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention--an independent body of five members appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council-- found Monday that 45-year-old Siamak Namazi and his 81-year-old father, Baquer Namazi, are being held illegally in Iran and urged the government to immediately release them.
"The deprivation of liberty of Mr. Siamak Namazi and Mr. Mohammed Baquer Namazi... is arbitrary," the Working Group concluded in its report. "The appropriate remedy would be to release [them] immediately and accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations..."
With President Trump's disdain for the 2015 agreement on limiting Iran's nuclear program threatening the pact's survival, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is likely to focus much of his time at the U.N. General Assembly this week with one main goal in mind: defending the controversial agreement.
Rouhani, who began his second term as president in May, was largely responsible for spearheading negotiations in 2015 with the United States and other world powers that led Iran to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.