French President Emmanuel Macron said that conditions now exist for talks between the US and Iran to ratchet down mutual hostilities – but US President Trump responded with his usual demands and accusations.
Speaking at a joint press conference alongside Trump on Monday as the G7 summit in Biarritz wound to a close, Macron was beaming optimistic about the chances for new negotiations.
“With President Trump, we agree that Iran must never have a nuclear weapon. Nothing is done, but the conditions for a meeting between President Rohani and President Trump, and therefore an agreement, are there,” Macron tweeted, shortly after the press conference, reinforcing his statement.
Avec le Président Trump, nous sommes d'accord pour dire que l'Iran ne doit jamais avoir l'arme nucléaire. Rien n'est fait, mais les conditions d'une rencontre entre le Président Rohani et le Président Trump, et donc d'un accord, sont là. #G7Biarritz
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 26, 2019
Trump was right there to quash any hopes for a breakthrough. Though he said he had “good feelings” for the Iranians, and that he would like to meet “if the circumstances were right,” it soon became clear that the “right circumstances” meant that Iran would have to submit to American demands and “be a good player,” which sounds like a rephrasing of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “behaving like a normal country” – basically, renouncing any and all regional ambitions. Trump also repeated his usual demands of “no nuclear weapons” (something Iran has already said –and international observers have confirmed– it is not pursuing), “no ballistic missiles” (something Iran deems a matter of national security and thus off the table), and topped it off with a generalized threat.
They can’t do what they were saying they’re going to do because if they do that they’re going to be met with really violent force.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif paid a ‘surprise’ visit to the G7 summit at the invitation of Macron – though it soon became clear that what appeared as a brave attempt by Macron to force the dialogue out of its stalemate, had in fact been agreed with Trump. The US president described it as Macron asking for his “approval,” while the French leader himself said he had simply “informed” Trump Zarif was coming.
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Washington has pursued a “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran in recent months, hoping to coerce the Islamic Republic to renegotiate aspects of its nuclear program after President Trump abrogated Washington’s end of the nuclear deal between Iran and other world powers last year. The campaign has leveraged everything from crippling economic sanctions, provocative military deployments in Iran’s backyard, as well as a constant torrent of hostile rhetoric.
While Tehran has maintained that Washington must abide by the terms of the JCPOA nuclear deal it had agreed to in 2015 and rebuffed new talks, American sanctions have taken a toll on the country’s oil-dependent economy. Several Iranian officials told Reuters on Sunday that the government would consider coming to the table for talks if its oil exports would be allowed to reach a 700,000 barrels per-day threshold, suggesting that Iran’s leadership may also be looking for a way to ease tensions.
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