France sees one-month window for US and Iran to engage talks
France's top diplomat judged Wednesday that Iran and the United States had just over a month to try to start a dialogue on easing tensions in the Middle East, before another expected move by Tehran to ramp up its nuclear activities.
The comment by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian came after it emerged that Iran's President Hassan Rouhani refused to take a call from Donald Trump during the UN summit in New York last month.
The call was reportedly brokered by President Emmanuel Macron, who has been pushing to reduce the risk of a spiraling conflict in the Middle East after Washington pulled out of a 2015 deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"We consider that these initiatives, which have not been successful for now, are still on the table," Le Drian told lawmakers in Paris.
He urged both sides to move before November 6, when Iran's government is likely to abandon further commitments it made as part of the 2015 deal.
Tehran has already stepped up its uranium enrichment activities after failing to secure relief from US sanctions imposed after it jettisoned the deal last year.
"It's now up to Iran and the United States to seize this relatively brief moment, because Iran has announced new steps to reduce its obligations to the Vienna accord in early November, and these measures risk leading to new tensions," Le Drian said.
Rouhani said Wednesday that Iran remains prepared to hold "fruitful negotiations" with Washington.
He accused Trump of scuppering the call on the sidelines of the UN meeting, saying the American president had just hours earlier "clearly announced an intensification of sanctions against Iran."
Rouhani had previously indicated that any talks with Trump could occur only if he agreed to lift the sanctions, which have hit Iran's economy hard.
© 2019 AFP