Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Mohammed Zarif arrives in Biarritz for surprise G7 visit

Mr Zarif was responding to an invitation from Emmanuel Macron, Iranian sources said

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited France only last week. AFP
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited France only last week. AFP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has arrived in the French city of Biarritz after an invitation from Emmanuel Macron to meet the G7.

Mr Zarif's arrival on Sunday afternoon appeared to surprise the other delegations to the summit; the Italians found out from French news wire AFP, Bloomberg reported.

French organisers did not say in what capacity he will attend the meetings and they refused to confirm any details.

Mr Zarif was in Paris only last week, meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron about the future of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

He described the talks as “constructive and good”, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.

The G7 leaders seemed at odds on its approach to Iran on Sunday, with US President Donald Trump denying signing off on a joint message to the state over its nuclear programme as announced by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

"No I haven't discussed that," Mr Trump told reporters on the sidelines of the G7 summit in the southwestern French resort of Biarritz.

This contradicted Mr Macron who shortly beforehand had said the G7 countries "agreed on what to say to Iran".

Mr Trump said: "We'll do our own outreach. But you can't stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk."

Iran's foreign ministry said Mr Zarif will not hold talks with Mr Trump while he is in France, but did not comment on the other delegations of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.

A landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Western powers and Iran all but collapsed after Mr Trump unilaterally withdrew US support last year, reimposing sanctions that have damaged Iran's economy.

Mr Macron has been leading efforts to defuse the crisis by finding ways of resuming dialogue, meeting Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif for rare talks in Paris on Friday on the eve of the summit.

He has also held telephone talks with President Hassan Rouhani

On Sunday, a diplomatic source said G7 leaders had mutually agreed to task Mr Macron with sending a message to Iran.

"Emmanuel Macron was mandated to talk with Iran and address a message" to the country to avoid an escalation in the region, the source said.

More to follow

Updated: August 25, 2019 07:11 PM

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