French President Emmanuel Macron paved the way at a G7 summit for a diplomatic solution to the standoff between Washington and Tehran over a 2015 nuclear deal, but there was little else to show from a meeting at which allies were sharply divided; Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, Macron, host of the summit of seven industrialized nations that ended on Monday in the French seaside resort of Biarritz, said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had told him he was open to a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump told a news conference before heading home that it was realistic to envisage a meeting with the Iranian head of government in the coming weeks. Both leaders are scheduled to attend the United Nations General Assembly next month.
European leaders have struggled to calm a confrontation between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled his country out of Iran’s internationally brokered 2015 nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.
“What unites us, and that is a big step forward, is that we not only don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but we also (want to) find the solution to that via political means,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the end of the gathering.
Macron has led efforts to defuse tensions, fearing a collapse of the nuclear deal could set the Middle East ablaze.
Trump ruled out lifting sanctions but said talks were underway to see how countries could open credit lines to keep its economy afloat. He indicated he wanted to address the nuclear deal’s timescale and said he did not want regime change.
“I’m looking at a really good Iran, really strong, we’re not looking for regime change,” he said. “And we’re looking to make Iran rich again, let them be rich, let them do well.”
But, apparently referring to Iran’s recent rhetoric about its ability to attack U.S. interests, Trump suggested Iran would meet “violent force” if it followed through on its threats.
Despite the headway made on Iran, the meeting ended with few significant deliverables because there were so many issues dividing the United States and its allies in particular.
These ranged from Washington’s escalating trade war with China, which many fear could tip the slowing world economy into recession, how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin should be readmitted to the group.
The U.S. president up-ended last year’s G7 summit in Canada, walking out of the meeting early and disassociating himself from the final communique having initially endorsed the document.
Trump said he had got on very well in Biarrtiz with fellow leaders from the group that also comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
However, Macron decided ahead of the meeting not to try for a communique after last year’s quarrel, and in the end France issued a terse one-page summit statement that mentioned trade, Iran, Libya, Ukraine and Hong Kong.