“We desire peace, cooperation, and mutual gain with all. But I will never fail to defend America's interests," Trump said in an address before world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.
He denounced Iran and called on other nations to join the United States to pressure Iran after attacks on Saudi oil facilities but said there is a path to peace.
“We want partners, not adversaries.”
“All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s blood lust. As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened,” Trump said.
The Sept. 14 attacks in Saudi Arabia have rattled the Middle East and raised concerns about a broader war.
He urged Persian Gulf allies to normalize relations with Israel to provide a regional counterweight to Iran.
Iran has been blamed by the US and some of its European allies for the attacks in Saudi Arabia but it denies involvement. Over the past week, Trump has tightened economic sanctions on Iran and ordered more US troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a show of support for those US allies in the tense region.
Trump offered a more toned-down message compared to the bombast of his previous speeches to the world body in 2017 and 2018 while stressing the United States military remains the world’s mightiest. Still, he was tough on Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for UN activities amid speculation about whether Trump and Rouhani might meet to discuss their differences.
Rouhani was at his New York hotel, not in the UN chamber, during Trump’s speech.
“It is time for Iran’s leaders to step forward… and focus on building up their own country,” Trump said.
“America is ready to embrace friendship to all who genuinely seek peace and respect,” he said.
As speculation mounted that Trump could meet in New York with Rouhani, the president raised the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough, saying "the United States has never believed in permanent enemies."
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he hoped there could be progress on Iran in the coming hours after he held direct and frank talks with Rouhani on Monday evening to try to find common ground.
“We have to get back around the table to have a frank and demanding discussion on the nuclear activity, Iran’s regional activities, the ballistic missile program, but also to have a larger approach on what sanctions are,” Macron told reporters, without elaborating. “I hope we will be able to make progress in the coming hours.”
Reuters and France24 contributed to this story.