Iran’s Zarif visit to G7 was no surprise, but ‘it was too soon’ – Trump
Meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister at G7 was premature for the US delegation, Donald Trump has said amid reports that he was ‘blindsided’ by the top diplomat’s surprise appearance at the summit.
US President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that while he “respected the fact that [Mohammad Javad Zarif] was coming in,” he did not want to meet Iranian Foreign Minister as “it was too soon.”
On Sunday, Zarif paid an unannounced visit to Biarritz, France, where the G7 summit was taking place. He held a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, who volunteered to facilitate dialogue between the US and Iran. American officials told Reuters that Zarif’s appearance had caught them by surprise, and Trump refused to comment on the matter. However, the US president has now revealed that he encouraged Macron to “go ahead” and continue talks with Tehran.
“I’m looking at a very strong Iran, we’re not looking for a regime change, we’ve seen how that works over the last 20 years,” he proclaimed.
During Zarif’s brief stay in Biarritz, Macron and his aides tried to defuse tensions that were stoked after the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-introduced sweeping sanctions on the Islamic Republic. In response, Tehran curbed some of its commitments under the deal and began the low-yield enrichment of uranium.
Paris spearheaded European efforts to keep the 2015 agreement afloat, even without US participation. The French peace plan reportedly involves the US lifting its oil embargo on Iran, in exchange for Iran immediately returning to compliance with the 2015 deal, and coming to the negotiating table.
While in France, Zarif talked for over three hours with Macron as well as officials from Britain and Germany. A French official told Reuters that the talks were “positive and will continue,” but the foreign minister was more reserved, saying that the “road ahead is difficult … but worth trying.”
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