World leaders have gathered in France for the G7 summit, a meeting that European Council President Donald Tusk said will be a “difficult test of unity and solidarity” due to deep divisions over a range of issues including trade and climate change. The annual gathering of the G7 nations, some of the world’s key industrial countries, kicked off on Saturday in the French coastal town of Biarritz.
Iran’s foreign minister paid a visit to a G7 summit in France on Sunday (August 25), an unexpected twist to a meeting already troubled by differences between U.S. President Donald Trump and Western allies over a raft of issues, including Iran. A White House official said France’s invitation to Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks on the sidelines of the gathering in the southwestern beachside town of Biarritz was “a surprise”.
Zarif met his French counterpart to assess what conditions could lead to a de-escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington, a French official said. Zarif also saw French President Emmanuel Macron during his brief stay, but the White House official said the Iranian minister did not meet any U.S. officials before he flew out of Biarritz airport.
Earlier on Sunday, Trump appeared to brush aside French efforts to mediate with Iran, saying that while he was happy for Paris to reach out to Tehran he would carry on with his own initiatives.
Macron has taken the lead in trying to defuse tensions, fearing that a collapse of the nuclear deal could set the Middle East ablaze. He met Zarif on Friday ahead of the G7 summit to discuss ways of easing the crisis, including reducing some U.S. sanctions or providing Iran with a compensation mechanism.
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13 November, 2019