The Latest: US, Japan agree on 1st stage of new trade deal

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has announced the “first stage of a phenomenal new trade agreement” with Japan.

It’s not immediately clear from Trump’s comments on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly what that “first stage” includes.

But Washington and Japan — which is the world’s third largest economy — have been in long, sometimes contentious negotiations on a trade deal.

There’s reportedly been considerable behind-the-scenes wrangling because of Japan’s concern about the possibility of future U.S. tariffs on Japanese auto exports.

Trump says Japan will open new markets to approximately $7 billion in U.S. agriculture products, including beef, pork, wheat, cheese, corn, wine and more.

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11:35 a.m.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is warning that a “single blunder” in his region could “fuel a big fire.”

In a bleak speech Wednesday, Rouhani warned that with tensions high and conflicts flaring, the region was “on the edge of collapse.”

Rouhani said that the United States had failed to solve conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and wasn’t capable of playing a role in calming tensions and bringing peace to the region now.

The Iranian leader was speaking at the United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York.

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11:20 a.m.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is accusing the United States of “merciless economic terrorism” and “international piracy.”

Tensions are running particularly high between Iran and the United States since President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers. Trump has since re-imposed and expanded sanctions on Iran, targeting its oil exports and crippling its economy.

Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly gathering Wednesday that Iran would not negotiate on the nuclear issue as long as sanctions remain in place.

He said Iran has “resisted the most merciless economic terrorism.”

10:50 a.m.

Ministers from the five powers that support the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and the Iranian government say they are striving to preserve it — and have underlined the importance of all sides implementing the deal.

The ministers said the agreement remains a key element “of global nuclear non-proliferation.”

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini read the brief statement on behalf of the ministers from Russia, China, Britain France, Germany and Iran after they held a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning.

Asked whether the agreement can be preserved, Mogherini said, “I won’t hide it that it’s increasingly difficult to do that, and we discussed today that.”

Mogherini said she believes Iran’s actions to break the deal’s nuclear-related limits “are reversible.” Iran is seeking to pressure Europe to offer it a way to sell its crude oil despite U.S. sanctions.

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10:45 a.m.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun is appealing to world leaders to work on the safe return of refugees to Syria.

He says the presence of hundreds of thousands of refugees in tiny Lebanon has exacerbated the country’s worsening economic crisis. He says their safe return is a joint international responsibility that should be dealt with urgently.

He added in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that more than 250,000 refugees have returned to Syria from Lebanon “and there has been no information about anyone being persecuted or mistreated.”

He says Lebanon will continue to encourage the “voluntary” return of refugees in coordination with the Syrian government.

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10:30 a.m.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh says he will not let his country become a battlefield for other countries’ conflicts to play out.

Iraq is squeezed between the two powerful rivals in the region, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Some have questioned whether attacks earlier this month on Saudi Arabian oil installations could have been launched from Iraq. Iraq has denied that.

Saleh told the United Nations General Assembly gathering Wednesday: “Iraq will not be a launching pad for aggression against any of our neighboring countries.”

He called the attacks in Saudi Arabia a dangerous development.

Saleh bemoaned that Iraq has long been unstable but struck a positive note, saying his country was emerging from years of conflict and looking toward economic development.

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9:30 a.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made no mention of the American scandal swirling around him in his first-ever address before the U.N. General Assembly, choosing instead to focus on the horrors of war and his country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

His speech Wednesday came less than day after a formal U.S. House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump was launched, a development that was sparked partly by a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

At issue is whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from Ukraine to undermine Democratic foe Joe Biden and help his own re-election.

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8:40 a.m.

The man at the center of America’s latest political storm kicks off the second day of speeches Wednesday at this year’s gathering of world leaders.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s first-ever address before the world body comes a mere few hours after a formal U.S. House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump was launched — a development that was sparked partly by a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

At issue is whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from Ukraine to undermine Democratic foe Joe Biden and help his own re-election.

In the days before the call, Trump ordered advisers to freeze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, prompting speculation that he was holding up the money as leverage for information on the Bidens.

Trump has denied that charge but acknowledged he blocked the funds.

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12:10 a.m.

With tensions high in the Persian Gulf, all eyes will be on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on as he speaks on the second day of the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders.

In another highly anticipated spee, Ukraine’s freshly minted president will address the group for the first time as a fast-escalating scandal involving U.S. President Donald Trump swirls around him.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s speech comes just a day after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump, focused partly on whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from Ukraine to undermine Democratic foe Joe Biden and help his own re-election.

Many of the world’s leaders have used their speeches so far to defend the multilateralism embodied by the United Nations.

Categories: International News