This photo taken from the Twitter account of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, shows French President Emmanuel Macron, third left, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian, second left, meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, bottom right in white shirt, on Sunday in Biarritz, southwestern France. Zarif paid an unannounced visit Sunday to the G-7 summit and headed straight to the buildings where leaders of the world's major democracies have been debating how to handle the country's nuclear ambitions. Photo: Twitter account of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif via AP
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High-stakes gamble: Iranian envoy gets surprise G7 invitation

38 Comments
By SYLVIE CORBET, LORI HINNANT and DARLENE SUPERVILLE

A top Iranian official paid an unannounced visit Sunday to the G7 summit and headed straight toward the heart of the city where leaders of the world's major democracies have been debating how to handle the country's nuclear ambitions.

France's surprise invitation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was a high-stakes gamble for French President Emmanuel Macron, who is the host of the Group of Seven gathering in Biarritz.

Zarif spent about five hours in Biarritz after his plane touched down at the airport, which has been closed since Friday to all flights unrelated to the official G7 delegations.

A senior French official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks, said Macron personally informed U.S. President Donald Trump about the invitation to Zarif.

The official noted that Macron and Trump met for two hours Saturday and discussed Iran at length, as well as at the informal group dinner Saturday night.

Another French official said that France "is working in full transparency with the U.S. and in full transparency with European partners." The Iranian met with Macron as well as diplomats from France, Germany and Britain at the Biarritz city hall, the official said.

Zarif, who is under U.S. sanctions, had been scheduled to go to Asia as part of a tour to seek support for Iran amid the American campaign against it since Trump withdrew the U.S. from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Trump had not "set preconditions" on negotiations with Iran.

Zarif arrived as fissures emerged among G7 leaders over how to deal with Iran.

Macron said the leaders agreed during a dinner the night before that the French president could serve as a G-7 messenger to Iran. Trump denied agreeing to anything, and Macron was forced to play down his role and acknowledge Trump's status as "the president of the world's number one power."

The French official also said that based on Saturday night's dinner, France considers it important to check in with Zarif to continue to bring positions closer together and ease tensions. The official said the French are not "mediators" but think they can contribute to de-escalation.

Macron said he has no formal mandate to speak for the G7 leaders in delivering a message to Iran, but that he would be able to address the issue in the context of what they agreed to during the dinner.

For several months, Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. His office said the G7 leaders agreed he should serve as a go-between with Iran.

"I haven't discussed that," Trump said Sunday morning. He described the dinner as "very, very good" and blamed the media for anything that implied otherwise.

But it seemed from other accounts that the dinner had been tense, with a clear divide between him and the rest of the G7.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, greeting Macron for a morning meeting, congratulated the French president and shook his hand.

"Well done. Bien joué," Johnson said, using the French expression for "well played" often uttered in a successful round of cards.

"You did very well last night. My God that was a difficult one. You did brilliant," he added.

Tristen Naylor, deputy director of the G7 Research Group, described the invitation as "a wild-card move."

"The risks to the French president were quite large. He could have evoked a very strong and negative reaction from the American president — everything from outright condemnation to actually the American president just saying enough of this and getting on the plane and flying away," Naylor said.

But the invitation was also something of a mirror of Trump's own high-stakes diplomacy.

"Something that we've learned over the 2 ½ years about the American president is that what works with him, what resonates with him, is surprise, is a big move, something flashy," he said. "And the French president has taken a page from it, I think, executed a maneuver out of it with great aplomb."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Zarif's presence was parallel to any G7 events and that everyone agreed to seek more talks rather than tensions.

She added: "It is absolutely right to explore every possibility, and what we discussed yesterday — which wasn't a formal assignment for anyone. But Iran certainly should know what we discussed."

After Zarif left, Macron and Trump had several apparently friendly exchanges as they prepped for the group photo of the leaders.

"Maybe Macron jumped the gun and misinterpreted. But we haven't been hearing howls of fury from the American delegation. It wouldn't be surprising if this is something which was, if not green-lighted, then not red-lighted by Washington," said Francois Heisbourg, adviser at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research. "This may not be the best of ideas from Washington's standpoint. But it doesn't hurt the Americans."

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


38 Comments
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I am glad at least some political figures are trying to keep a cool head and approach issues from the standpoint of mutual harmony, instead of trying to throw the world into an even bigger discord.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Zarif's surprise visit isn't going to achieve anything of substance for now. The visit was clearly designed to be symbolic -- a snub to the arrogance of the American administration --a show of the to the likes of Trump and Bolton.

Well done France.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

donny got trumped

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Good.

At a time when Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, and refuses to cooperate with Europe toward what should be common interests, it is befitting that Europe not allow Trump to dictate to them how they should interact with other countries. He is confused, and has amost no understanding of what is going on in the world, so he should not be allowed to tell others how they should relate to Iran.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Iran should not talk to the unstable Trump junta. Until there is regime change in Washington, there is no point in discussions.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Zarif & Trump meeting for two hours. Shows flexibility on both sides. Now for results.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Trump has zero understanding of world affairs. He shouldn't even be at the G7.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Dump is a coward and a two-faced idiot. You can't trust anything he says. Once he gets safely home, he will start backstabbing everyone from the G7 through twitter.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Macron played Donny masterfully, which really isn't that much of a feat given how much of an open book Donny is.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

What a positive move. Well done, M. Macron.

Now to see if any of it rubs off on the Trump/Bolton/Pompeo Axis of Evil.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Boss move. Nice Macron.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@talaraedokko

Zarif & Trump meeting for two hours. Shows flexibility on both sides. Now for results.

No, Dump did not meet with Zariff at all.

The official noted that Macron and Trump met for two hours Saturday and discussed Iran at length, as well as at the informal group dinner Saturday night.

> Another French official said that France "is working in full transparency with the U.S. and in full transparency with European partners." The Iranian met with Macron as well as diplomats from France, Germany and Britain at the Biarritz city hall, the official said.

Zariff met with everyone except Dump. First of all, Dump is not intelligent or mature enough to have real negotiations. That is why the other adults in the room are working around him while the child sits there and pouts. Dump is simply a placeholder until a real leader is elected again like Pres. Obama. The G7 nations are tolerating him because they don't want him to screw anything else up like an overly emotional teenage girl with self-esteem issues. The only country that actually respects him is Japan because their leader and government are equally ignorant. They like emulating him because he is easy to understand with his basic vocabulary and childish behavior.

Dump got played this weekend, and he will start name calling all the leaders once he safely runs back home on twitter.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Macron cozying up to the murderous and mysoginistic Iranian regime. It wont work.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Macron cozying up to the murderous and mysoginistic Iranian regime. It wont work.

Uh, who says he's "in love" and exchanges "love letters" with one of the most brutal, cold-blooded dictators in the world today?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@Kestrel

Macron cozying up to the murderous and mysoginistic Iranian regime. It wont work.

Dump's best friends are lil' Kim and Putin!

Pot meet kettle. LOL!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I guess Iranians believe everyone outside of Iran must be a zionist since some throw the word around more than a game in a baseball game.

Well, he was educated in the US.

The Iranian teenager wouldn't know that!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Kestrel

Macron cozying up to the murderous and mysoginistic Iranian regime. It wont work.

I also forgot this piece of information:

Trump ruined a G7 summit dinner by insisting the group read admit Russia

https://finance.yahoo.com/m/c36a8c8e-1776-3d80-b35c-863983d18067/trump-ruined-a-g7-summit.html

Dump, the russian asset that keeps on giving!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@zichi.......Iran is all that matters........we're winning.......heheheheeeee

actually you are not winning anything and the sanctions hurt the people. Iran needs other countries to import the raw materials and for buying the oil. Iran cannot exist alone. Your people even need to attend American universities for their education and advancements.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Trump is a million miles away from an agreement with Iran. It's too big of a deal for him to pull off.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The EU has already issued a statement calling on unity on the Iran issue. The EU's support for Iran is unmistakable:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-g7-summit-iran-france/important-for-europe-to-stay-united-on-iran-french-official-idUKKCN1VD172

0 ( +3 / -3 )

What does Iran need to import?

Machinery, cereals, iron and steel, and chemicals...

http://www.worldstopexports.com/irans-top-10-imports/

$60 billion of imports.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 of US$447.7 billion

https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/iran/overview

Oil and natural gas are Iran's most important exports, accounting for 82 percent of the country's export revenues.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Iranian nuclear deal should be supported and Iran should continue to honor it. Meanwhile the nuclear problems should be continued to be worked on.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The EU's support for Iran is unmistakable:

European refiners can increase their profits by selling petrol (gasoline) to Iran. Now why would Iran with its huge reserves of oil and gas need to import petrol.

'Petrol to Iran' is the new 'coal to Newcastle'. Except in Iran's case, it's not pointless.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Boss move.

An underutilized adjective.

Macron cozying up to the murderous and mysoginistic Iranian regime. It wont work.

Anyone care for a massive helping of cognitive dissonance?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@zichi.......there was never an Iranian nuke issue. Iran is and has always been in compliance as verified by the IAEA. The issue is regime change in Iran. Now that is unacceptable. Iranians won't back down! Trump wants to browbeat/ bully Iran, but it ain't goin work, no matter what he tries pulling.

Yes well the issue is how much weapon grade uranium which in turn could be used to build a nuclear bomb. I don't agree with Trump's actions on the nuclear deal and it should remain in place and then work out the problems.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@zichi, Iran's doctrine rejects WMD's. Iran does not believe in nukes. You can't use them, no matter what. They are obsolete and hence useless in today's geo-political world. However the real Iran issue entails prying it away from Russia/ China and bringing it under Western control and prevent it from knocking down all its neighbors via proxy. What Trump is after is a subdued Iran working for Western interests in the region. This to Iran is unacceptable. Iran won't compromise on its independence or sovereignty.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@zichi, Iran's doctrine rejects WMD's. Iran does not believe in nukes. You can't use them, no matter what. They are obsolete and hence useless in today's geo-political world.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran is allowed to enrich uranium only up to a 3.67% concentration, to stockpile no more than 300kg (660lbs) of the material, and to operate no more than 5,060 centrifuges.

So why is Iran producing 20% enriched uranium? It has no need for it? Iran would need roughly 1,050kg of 3.67% enriched uranium to be able to produce enough weapons-grade material for one bomb.

I'm no supporter of Trump on Iran or anything else. What the Middle East needs is an extended period of peace.

The international community does not believe that, pointing to evidence collected by the IAEA suggesting that until 2003 Iran conducted "a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device". Some of those activities continued until 2009, according to the IAEA.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Macron cozying up to the murderous and mysoginistic Iranian regime. It wont work.

Should he instead be cozying up to the murderous and mysognistic North Korean regime, bringing his regime-cozying in line with the USA?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

or cozying up to the murderous and misogynistic Saudi regime...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Iran doesn't need nukes, its long won the battle without them.

Like Libya?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Now the stable genius is claiming he knew all along as was asked for permission. HA!

'I knew he was coming': Donald Trump says he was given notice that Iranian diplomat would crash G7'

https://www.yahoo.com/news/knew-coming-donald-trump-says-075105086.html

If Trump knew, and was asked for his permission, why did France say this:

"Asked whether the White House was aware of the decision, the French official told the Associated Press that “we operate on our own terms."

LOL! Dump's poor ego can't take that he was ignored like a child!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@ChipStar.......Iran is not Libya. Iran has 80 million people!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@ChipStar.......Iran is not Libya. Iran has 80 million people!

I see your population reference and raise you a size reference: Libya is larger than Iran!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Trump might have been informed about the Iranian but only once he had landed at the summit. Macron didn’t need the permission of Trump to invite anyone to France.

A very good gesture from Macron to try and reserve something of the Nuclear Deal.

Trump clearly stated he does not want regime change in Iran, let them be rich or let them be poor, but let them be free, which they are not.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

donny got trumped

Sure, characterize Trump as getting trumped because an Iranian official was invited for discussions concerning his country's nuclear ambitions, lol.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Sure, characterize Trump as getting trumped because an Iranian official was invited for discussions concerning his country's nuclear ambitions, lol.

No...but I'll explain...he was definitely slighted on the world stage by real leaders that don't respect him because dealing with him IS dealing with a petulant child.

With me now? Did i simplify it enough?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Sure, characterize Trump as getting trumped because an Iranian official was invited for discussions concerning his country's nuclear ambitions, lol.

No, it's because Fonny was caught off guard.

Feel better after having posted that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

he was definitely slighted on the world stage by real leaders that don't respect him 

Trump's a real leader, not a UN puppet. With me now?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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