Iranian foreign minister meets European diplomats at the G7 meeting

The meeting between Javad Zarif and the European diplomats was the result of French president, Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or the ‘Iran nuclear deal’.

August 26, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Jawad Zarif- Iran
Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, meets French president, Macron, along with other European diplomats on the sidelines of the G7 meet at Biarritz, France.

Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, was invited by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on the sidelines of the ongoing G7 summit meeting at Biarritz, France, to discuss the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

Dubbed as ‘Iran nuclear deal’, the agreement is threatened by the withdrawal of the United States, which has put in place sanctions against Iran. The meeting with the European diplomats, which took place on August 25, is yet another sign, indicating the isolation of the US, with respect to its Iran policy. 

Zarif flew into France early on Sunday morning and met his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, before meeting Macron. He also met with officials from Germany and the United Kingdom. Zarif, in a tweet, called these meetings a continuation of “Iran’s active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement”. However, he also cautioned that “the road ahead is difficult but worth trying [sic].”

The invitation to the Iranian minister came after members of the G7 failed to agree upon a joint call of action, following lengthy discussions on Saturday. Earlier, there were speculations in the media that the US has informally given a go-ahead to the meeting. However, Trump denied any prior consultation with France on the issue of inviting Zarif.

European Union members, including France, have not joined the US actions against Iran so far, and want to salvage the JCPOA. Macron has long been advocating for the easing of sanctions by the US, in order to encourage the Iranians to come on the table for talks. His special emissary, Emmanuel Bonn, has also visited Tehran twice, in recent months.  

The unilateral US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the subsequent sanctions, have incited Iran to begin reducing its own commitments under the deal. This has led to widespread apprehension about the agreement collapsing, considered crucial for bringing peace to the region.

Before flying in for the meeting with the European diplomats on Sunday, Zarif had been in France on August 23 as well. He met with Macron and, in an interview to AFP, appreciated France’s initiatives as a “move in the right direction”, adding that he hoped more would be done to reach a common ground among all concerned parties.   

The US, however, has refused to extend any concessions to the Iranians, despite extending an invitation for talks. Iran, on the other hand, has also refused to engage with the Trump administration, until all sanctions against it are lifted. The country has started downgrading its commitments under the JCPOA in a systematic manner. However the government has assured its adherence to the deal and the eventual reversal of any transgressions, after the European signatories have acted to save the Iranians from the adverse effects of the US sanctions.  

Constant pressure tactics and sanctions employed by the US against Iran, have made the Persian Gulf region more volatile. Iran’s relations with the UK have also been affected by the “oil tanker” fiasco. The US, however, has continued with its so called “zero tolerance” policy towards Iran and has sanctioned its top leadership, including Javad Zarif, earlier this month, for “implementing the agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader.”