01:45 GMT +316 November 2019
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    French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump react during a news conference at the end of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France

    Emmanuel Macron Sees France as 'Balancing Power' That Can Help US-Iran Rapprochement

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    Amid an escalating stand-off between the US and Iran, the French president invited the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Biarritz, the site of the most recent G7 summit. As President Macron later stated, “conditions [were] created” for a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, to discuss a possible new agreement.

    French President Emmanuel Macron, who has taken over as mediator between Washington and Tehran, stated that his efforts were “fragile,” but indicated that he sees a “possible path” for the two long-time adversaries. Addressing diplomats on Tuesday, he said that his move to invite Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the summit of the Group of Seven in Biarritz helped create “the possible conditions of a useful meeting.”

    According to Macron, it is France’s responsibility to take over a “role of a balancing power”, adding that these efforts give hope for a “de-escalation” of tensions, the AP news agency reports.

    During the joint presser with the US head of state on Monday, Macron said that in his opinion, the “conditions [were] created” for a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss a possible new agreement that would reduce tensions between the two countries. The French president said that a meeting could be arranged in the coming weeks and that he had spoken about this possibility with Rouhani on the phone, telling him that he believes an agreement can be reached between the US and Iran.

    Trump commented on possible talks with Iran by saying that he would agree to them if the "circumstances were correct or right". He added that he still has a "good feeling" about negotiations with Iran.

    "But in the meantime, they have to be good players […] They can't do what they were saying they are going to do because if they do that they are going to be met with very violent force", Trump said.

    Trump stated on Monday that he had not yet met with Zarif, earlier subjected to US sanctions, because it was "too soon" although the latter arrived at the G7 summit in Biarritz. Macron reportedly agreed on his visit to the French town of Biarritz with Trump in advance, but the Iranian official's arrival at the G7 summit caught White House officials by surprise.

    The Iranian foreign minister's trip to France comes amid growing tensions between Tehran and Washington. Following the unilateral US withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Washington has continued to step up pressure on the Iranian leadership through sanctions and a military build-up in the Middle East.

    Trump claimed that the existing nuclear deal was "flawed" and repeatedly suggested meeting with Iranian officials to negotiate a new deal. Tehran has so far declined these offers, saying that the US should first lift the sanctions, as the country would not negotiate while "under the pressure".

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    Tags:
    Mohammed Javad Zarif, Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran, France, US
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