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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Macron heads to America with Iran deal in the balance

French leader is not expecting to make a breakthrough persuading Donald Trump to accept the nuclear accord

The French president lands in Washington Monday for a three-day state visit – the first since Trump took office. Mandel Ngan / AFP
The French president lands in Washington Monday for a three-day state visit – the first since Trump took office. Mandel Ngan / AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron is cautious about his chances of convincing his United States counterpart Donald Trump to stick with the Iran nuclear accord and does not expect any breakthrough on his visit to the US next week, his aides said.

The US president’s advisers say he has not taken a decision on the deal yet, the French officials said at a briefing in Paris.

France, along with Germany and the UK, will seek to give Mr Trump guarantees that the deal can work, the officials said. Mr Macron will offer to set out the European nations’ additional commitments in a side deal to the main accord, they said.

The French president lands in Washington on Monday for a three-day state visit – the first since Trump took office. The two leaders will discuss topics including ongoing issues with Iran, Syria, North Korea and Russia, as well as US moves on global trade, the agenda for the next Group of Seven meeting and the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, the officials said.

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Mr Macron’s priorities are to keep the US in the Iran accord and to convince Trump to extend a waiver for American tariffs on European steel and aluminium. Still, his aides insisted that the visit’s success should not be measured by the French president’s ability to deliver on those goals.

He will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday to prepare for the talks and to agree a common position on the US tariff threat. Mrs Merkel visits Washington on April 27.

On Tuesday, the presidents will hold a private meeting and then a broader discussion with more advisers. They will take questions from the media afterward. Mr Macron and his wife will then head to a lunch with vice president Mike Pence and later on present US veterans with medals for their military service in helping to free France during World War II.

Mr Macron will give a 30-minute speech to Congress on Wednesday and then meet students from George Washington University. He will end his visit with a press conference before flying back to Paris to speak at a conference on terrorist financing.