Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made an unexpected appearance at the Group of 7 summit in France over the weekend, surprising many, including President Donald Trump, who refused to meet with him.
Zarif came to the event at the French president’s invitation, who had been calling on Trump to ease tensions with Iran for weeks. Trump has been refusing to do so, saying that although “Emmanuel [Macron] means well…nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself.”
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been boiling ever since President Trump decided to withdraw from the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran and several European nations. Since then, the U.S. has imposed damaging sanction on Iran, as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign, while Tehran has vowed to forego commitments to the nuclear deal and continue enriching uranium.
It has likewise demanded that other signatories of the nuclear pact, including France and Germany, do more to save it.
CNN reports that during an informal dinner for G7 leaders Saturday night, the French president said on Iran, “We do not want Iran to have the nuclear bomb and we do not want to destabilize the region.”
The next day, Macron added in a TV address that “to avoid escalation, we must continue to take initiatives.”
He later noted, “We have agreed on a joint communication and a course of action which reconciles the different positions,” a statement Trump denied, saying no such plan had his support.
“Iran is no longer the same country as it was two and a half years ago. We will do our own outreach but, you know, you can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk they can talk,” Trump told reporters.
Lacking the U.S. president’s support, Macron stressed on Sunday that he was only speaking in the name of France and added that he was acting alone, without anyone’s backing. “Initiatives will continue to be taken by each of us. The G7 is an informal club. There is no formal mandate,” he said.