Iran to sign friendship agreement with Asean, Singapore says

Bloomberg – Iran will sign a cooperation treaty with Southeast Asia at an upcoming meeting that will also be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and North Korean officials, a Singaporean diplomat said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will sign the document at a gathering of Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers starting on July 30 in Singapore, Ong Keng Yong, the city-state’s non-resident ambassador to Iran, said in an interview. “The Asean countries welcome anyone who wants to sign onto the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation,” said Ong, a former Asean secretary general.

The Asean meeting comes two months after the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of an international nuclear agreement with Iran, and moved to choke off the Islamic Republic’s oil exports. The U.S. is also trying to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, with President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un holding a unprecedented meeting in Singapore last month.

Pompeo is Trump’s point man for both nuclear issues. North Korea will be represented by Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Ong said he was unaware whether Zarif planned any meetings with Pompeo or other officials. “I’m only looking at his visit from our bilateral perspective,” he said.

The 10-member Asean bloc represents 630 million people and economies with a combined gross domestic product of around $2.4 trillion.

The leaders of Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. are expected to attend the 13th East Asia Summit in November. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong — this year’s Asean host — said last month that Trump had accepted his invitation to the gathering.