Iran FM Zarif arrives as surprise guest in G7 venue Biarritz for nuclear deal talks

Iran FM Zarif arrives as surprise guest in G7 venue Biarritz for nuclear deal talks

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Iranain Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has touched down in Biarritz, France, where G7 leaders are discussing a plan to restart the floundering nuclear deal. His surprise visit came at the invitation of his French counterpart.

The unscheduled visit at the invitation of Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian comes after Zarif met President Emmanuel Marcon earlier this week to discuss the fate of the agreement. The spokesman said Zarif would not be meeting US President Donald Trump or any of his delegation while in France.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran Deal) all but collapsed after the US withdrew unilaterally last May, leaving Washington’s European allies struggling to maintain trade with Tehran in the face of multiple rounds of US sanctions, and with military tensions between Iran and the US flaring in the Persian Gulf.

President Macron has made restarting negotiations with Tehran a priority at this weekend’s G7 summit.

Whereas Macron presented his peace plan to Trump, the US leader arrived with hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, and insisted that his “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic was working. Trump was also unaware that Zarif is coming to town, Reuters reported citing a White House official.

Macron’s plan reportedly involves the US lifting its oil embargo on Iran, in exchange for Iran immediately returning to compliance with the 2015 deal, and coming to the negotiating table. French officials refused to comment on whether Macron and Zarif would meet on Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel added that any talks between the Iranian and French foreign ministers were a side event to the summit, and herself and her G7 counterparts would continue to “find a way to de-escalate” tensions with Tehran. US President Trump offered a succinct “no comment.”

Though it was reported that the G7 leaders had agreed to task Macron with delivering a joint statement to Iran, President Trump told reporters on Sunday that he hadn’t “discussed that.”

Divided in their approach to doing so, the G7 leaders could only agree jointly that they wanted to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb and ensure peace and stability in the Middle East.

Zarif boarded his aircraft and departed Biarritz shortly at 7.30pm local time, after five hours at the summit.__RT.com

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