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Macron hosts Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for talks on nuclear deal

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French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with Iran’s foreign minister Friday ahead of a G7 meeting, where he will attempt to soothe tensions between Tehran and Washington at what risks being a stormy summit.

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After the meeting, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestions for defusing the crisis over Iran’s nuclear drive went in the right direction, but that more work needed to be done.

“President Macron made some suggestions last week to President (Hassan) Rouhani and we believe they are moving in the right direction, although we are not definitely there yet,” Zarif told AFP in an interview after meeting Macron for rare talks in Paris.

“We’re at a critical moment,” Macron warned on Wednesday, acknowledging that Iran is “laying out a strategy for exiting the JCPOA”, the name of the 2015 accord reining in the country’s nuclear ambitions.

He admitted this week there were “true disagreements” over Iran within the G7 club of the world’s biggest economies, which are meeting in France this weekend.

But Macron had pledged to “try to propose things” in the talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Elysée Palace on Friday.

France has stepped up its outreach to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, with Macron twice dispatching his diplomatic advisor Emmanuel Bonne to Tehran in recent months.

“President Rouhani instructed me to go and meet with President Macron (to see) whether we can finalise some of these proposals in order to be able to have everybody comply with their obligations under the JCPOA,” Zarif said in Norway on Thursday.

“It’s an opportunity to review the proposal by President Macron and to present the views of President Rouhani and see if we can find more common ground. We already have some common ground.”

The nuclear deal has all but collapsed after US President Donald Trump pulled the US out unilaterally in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions that have wreaked havoc on the Iranian economy.

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Tensions have only worsened since then, with both Tehran and Washington claiming to have shot down rival drones in the Mideast in recent weeks.

Iran has also locked horns with Britain, with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seizing a British tanker in July after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar.

The European signatories to the landmark 2015 deal vowed to find a workaround to keep it alive, and have implored Tehran to respect the deal nonetheless.

But in July, it announced its nuclear programme would no longer be bound by some of the deal’s key restrictions.

“They can be reversed as soon as Europe comes into compliance with its own obligations under the JCPOA,” Zarif said Thursday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

 

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