Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived on Sunday in Biarritz, southwestern France, where leaders of the G7 group of nations are meeting, an Iranian official said.
Iran's foreign ministry confirmed today that Zarif had flown to Biarritz at the invitation of his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian. A spokesman said there would be no meetings with US officials.
A French diplomat also confirmed the arrival of Zarif, saying the visit was a continuation of an ongoing initiative by the French president, Emmanuel Macron to defuse tensions between Iran and the U.S.
“We have been trying for several months to defuse tensions and create a pause for useful negotiations,” the French diplomat said. He added that the French were not acting as mediators for the US, and it was not the intention “at this stage” to bring together the Iranians and Americans.
And this is apparently just what President Donald Trump wants because asked to comment on reports that Zarif had landed in Biarritz, Trump said: “No comment”. However, French officials said Macron did inform other leaders at the summit of the visit by Zarif, including Donald Trump.
Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, also made an abortive attempt to mediate talks between the U.S. and Iran in June this year since Trump pulled his country out of Iran’s internationally brokered 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.
Trump said: “I also support Prime Minister Abe’s outreach because he’s also speaking to Iran … We’ll do our own outreach. But you can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk.”
Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton accompanied him to the G7 meeting and is well known for his hawkish attitude against Iran. He is opposed to any easing of the “maximum pressure” campaign
Trump has Bolton, but Iranian diplomats are facing resistance from Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and hardliners in the powerful Revolutionary Guards who insist the country's missile program is not negotiable.
This latest twist in the G7 meetings comes after U.S. officials had complained that Macron was dictating what subjects the leaders were to discuss rather than focusing on global economic issues. “France, this year’s host, wants the Group of 7 to stay silent on these core economic issues,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow wrote in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, according to The Hill.