French President on State Visit to Persuade Trump to Preserve Iran Deal

French President Emmanuel Macron began on Monday his full state visit to the United States, the first one President Donald Trump has hosted, in an effort to persuade the U.S. president to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

The three-day trip is a test of Macron’s year-long effort to cultivate a positive relationship with Trump. The French president is an envoy for a European effort to address Trump’s main quarrels with the 2015 international pact with Tehran through smaller side deals and diplomatic understandings, The Washington Post writes.

However, these latest efforts to convince Trump not to ditch the deal are expected to be much more difficult considering that the newly appointed advisers in his national security team are not supportive of the pact, unlike previous ones.

Both John Bolton and secretary-of-state-to-be Mike Pompeo are considerably more hawkish toward Iran than their predecessors H.R. McMaster and Rex Tillerson, leaving the French president with fewer allies within the Trump administration.

When he arrived in Washington on Monday, Macron seized the opportunity to make his case against abandoning the Iran deal, saying that “The United States, like France, has a very particular responsibility.”

Nonetheless, sources close to the Trump administration say that the decision to leave the deal on May 12 has already been made.

“The decision to leave is pretty much made,” said a source familiar with the administration’s thinking on Iran. The administration has “positioned itself that way, but it’s keeping an eye on the possibility of staying should the Europeans be able to extract concessions from Iran.”

But the chances for that are very slim, the sources said, adding that Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is also to visit the U.S., need to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” in order to get the administration and the President not to decertify the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

According to CNN, sources have also said that both European and U.S. negotiators are working hard toward reaching an agreement to prevent the U.S. from leaving the pact. Iran is likewise engaged in lobbying efforts. The country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, visited New York on Sunday, and on Monday tweeted his support for Macron.

“President Macron is correct in saying there’s no ‘Plan B’ on JCPOA. It’s either all or nothing,” Zarif tweeted Monday. “European leaders should encourage President Trump not just to stay in the nuclear deal, but more importantly to begin implementing his part of the bargain in good faith,” he added.

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