France Says it Told G7 Partners ‘Early Enough' of Zarif’s Visit

Sunday, 25 August, 2019 - 18:45
Asharq Al-Awsat

France told its G7 partners of the Iranian foreign minister's surprise visit for side talks at a summit in the city of Biarritz as soon as it was possible, a French official said on Sunday, after the White House said the move had surprised President Donald Trump.

"It was all organized at very short notice," an Elysee official told Reuters. "It all happened within a small window. Other countries were informed as soon as possible. It all happened in a matter of hours."

Asked why other countries weren't told earlier of the surprise visit, the Elysee official said: "They were informed early enough," adding that the diplomatic situation was too sensitive.

Iran's foreign minister flew in for side talks at the G7 summit on Sunday as host France ramped up efforts to ease tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Zarif’s plane left a few hours after its arrival. The departure came within a minute of a tweet sent out by the Iranian FM confirming he had met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

A senior French official said Macron made the decision to invite Iran's top diplomat to Biarritz after the dinner among the G-7 leaders.

The Saturday night dinner involved tense exchanges over how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions since Trump withdrew from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal. Macron had met just Friday with Zarif and decided to invite him to France again, this time to Biarritz.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it's worth taking every opportunity to avoid a further escalation of the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, and that G-7 leaders had a "good, constructive discussion" on the subject Saturday evening.

Merkel said Zarif's presence is "a parallel event in the same place, but not a G-7 movement, and now we must see whether the immediate communication of how the talks went yesterday produces further possibilities to speak and perhaps negotiate with Iran."

Read More ...