Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew into Biarritz in southern France for the G7 summit on Sunday in an unexpected and dramatic attempt to break a diplomatic deadlock over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
Zarif’s presence had not been announced and represented an attempt by French host Emmanuel Macron to find a way to soothe spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States.
He was not expected to hold face-to-face talks with US President Donald Trump but the presence of the two men in the same place sparked hopes of a detente.
“Zarif… has arrived in Biarritz… to continue talks regarding the recent measures between the presidents of Iran and France,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted, after flight tracking sites spotted that Zarif’s plane had landed in Biarritz.
The French presidency confirmed his arrival but emphasised no talks were planned with the American side.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that Trump had in the past said that if Iran “wants to sit down and negotiate he will not set preconditions,” adding he would not make any more comments about “who’s here” at the G7.
Macron held talks with Zarif in Paris on the eve of the G7 summit and has been leading efforts to bring Tehran and Washington back to the negotiating table.
Trump’s policy of applying “maximum pressure” on Tehran via crippling sanctions has been criticised by European powers and is seen as raising the risk of conflict in the Middle East.— AFP