On the sideline of the UN General Assembly in New York Tuesday evening, prior to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani's main address on Wednesday, this surprise and somewhat awkward scene unfolded:
"You need to be on the side of the swimming pool and jump at the same time," urged Boris Johnson after Macron implored Rouhani not to lose the opportunity to meet with Trump while in New York.
Rouhani merely laughed vigorously as the British prime minister literally pretended to leap off the edge of a pool.
Macron to Rouhani: If you leave the country without meeting with President Trump, honestly it would be a loss of opportunity.pic.twitter.com/yDfV2aQbOm— Reza Khaasteh (@Khaaasteh) September 25, 2019
French President Macron had begun the brief exchange in the middle of a crowded hallway, saying to the Iranian president's translator:
"If he leaves the country without meeting with president Turmp, honestly this is a lost opportunity..."
...[Rouhani laughing boisterously]
"Because it will not come back in a few months except... And President Trump will not go to Tehran."
That's where Johnson chimed in, "You need to be on the side of the swimming pool & jump at the same time." The British prime minister urged this while physically positioning himself for a "jump".
"I agree," Macron seconded.
Rouhani was unmoved, apparently, in what made for a comical scene of where things actually stand (with Iran's 'counter-pressure campaign' over and against US threats and pressures remaining in high gear).
The vigor evident in Rouhani's laugh certainly gave the impression he's not worried. Or perhaps in the confusion of translation, he thought to two European leaders were putting on a skit for him, given Johnson's comical jump off the side of an imagined swimming pool.
Johnson: You need to be on the side of the swimming pool & jump at the same time.— Reza H. Akbari (@rezahakbari) September 25, 2019
Narrator: Little did Boris know that Rouhani cannot swim. The comment brought back a flood of memories of being bullied by classmates. Crestfallen, Hassan walked away.https://t.co/mWShpKXNem #Iran
In his UN Assembly speech which followed, Rouhani wasted no time in slamming US military power and hegemony as ultimately fueling "the flames of war, bloodshed, aggression, occupation and religious and sectarian fanaticism and extremism" in the region.
"The security of our region shall be provided when American troops pull out," Rouhani said, concluding that, "Security shall not be supplied with American weapons and intervention."
Addressing the recent attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities, which Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for, but which western powers led by the United States blamed Iran for, Rouhani said, "The security of Saudi Arabia shall be guaranteed with the termination of aggression to Yemen, rather than by inviting foreigners," he said.
Rouhani's full UN address with English audio translation:
He also accused the US of "merciless economic terrorism" against his country, after prior statements affirming that any new talks with Washington remain off the table unless it drops sanctions.
Instead, the White House has only added to them. On Wednesday the US Treasury announced new sanctions on Chinese shipping companies and individuals who allegedly violated sanctions on Iran, blacklisting the China Concord Petroleum Co. Ltd., and two units of a major Chinese shipping company, Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Co. Ltd. and Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman and Ship Management Co. Ltd., according to the WSJ.