Iran’s top diplomat has arrived in France for surprise talks at the G7 summit, an official announced, as US President Donald Trump appeared to brush aside French efforts to mediate with Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif landed on Sunday in the French seaside town of Biarritz, where leaders of the G7 nations – the United States, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan – are holding their annual gathering.
French President Emmanuel Macron, the host of this year’s G7 summit, has been leading efforts to defuse tensions triggered by Trump’s decision to exit the internationally-brokered 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions against Tehran.
Macron met Zarif for rare talks in Paris on Friday on the eve of the summit. He has also held telephone talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
In a Twitter post, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said Zarif will “continue talks regarding the recent measures between the presidents of Iran and France” during his surprise visit to Biarritz.
But “there will be no talks with the US delegation on this trip,” said Abbas Mousavi.
Zarif was due to hold talks with France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, a French official told Reuters news agency.
Earlier on Sunday, Macron told LCI television that the G7 leaders had agreed on “what we wanted to say jointly on Iran”.
The French presidency told news agencies that the G7 leaders had discussed the issue over dinner on Saturday evening and agreed that Macron should hold talks and pass on messages to Iran.
However, Trump, who has pushed a maximum pressure policy on Iran, pushed back.
Asked if he had signed off on a statement that Macron intends to give on behalf of the G7 on Iran, Trump said: “I haven’t discussed this. No, I haven’t.”
He added: “We’ll do our own outreach, but, you know, I can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk.”
Macron later appeared to backtrack on his team’s comments, saying there was no formal mandate from the G7 leaders.
“Yesterday, we had a discussion from which two priorities emerged. First of all, no member of the G7 wants Iran to ever get a nuclear weapon. Second, all members of the G7 are deeply committed to stability and peace in the region and therefore want to avoid actions that could compromise that,” he said.
“The G7 is an informal group. There is no formal mandate given to anyone in this context. We will each continue to take initiatives to reach our two goals, that’s what’s important. The outcome of yesterday’s discussions is that we will continue to all act, each in their own way.”