Iran's FM Zarif Calls Nuclear Talks With France's Macron 'Productive'
By RFE/RL August 23, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says talks with French President Emanuel Macron aimed at rescuing a 2015 international deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program were "productive."
"France had presented some suggestions and we presented some suggestions about how to implement [the nuclear deal] and the steps that both sides need to take," Zarif was quoted by Iranian media as saying following an August 23 meeting with Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Zarif said that Iran will not renegotiate the nuclear accord, which the deal's European signatories have been trying to keep alive following Washington's exit last year and the reimposition of crippling sanctions.
"The talks were good and productive. Of course, it depends on how the European Union can carry out the commitments within [the nuclear deal] and also after America's exit."
In an interview with the French AFP news agency, Zarif praised Macron's suggestions for salvaging the nuclear deal, saying they went in the "right direction."
"We believe they are moving in the right direction, although we are not definitely there yet," Zarif said.
Zarif did not provide details about Macron's suggestions but said that the European signatories to the accord need to find ways to ease the situation for Iran following the U.S. withdrawal from the deal.
"We are searching for ways Europe can in fact implement its commitments so that we can reverse the steps we have taken," he said.
"For us, what is important is to be able to continue to conduct business with the European Union," he said.
Zarif also met with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on August 23.
Macron has dispatched his diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne to Tehran twice for talks with Iranian officials in recent months in efforts to keep the accord alive.
The meeting in Paris comes a day ahead of the start of a three-day Group of Seven (G7) summit in the French town of Biarritz.
Zarif has said that Iran is prepared to consider French proposals to salvage the deal that required Tehran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Zarif added that Iran would not tolerate U.S. interference in the Persian Gulf.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have risen since the U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the international nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on the country.
Iran's economy has suffered under the sanctions, which target its oil and financial sectors.
In July, Tehran announced that it was reducing some of its commitments under the nuclear deal.
Exacerbating tensions further, Iran debuted on August 22 what it described as a domestically built long-range missile.
President Hassan Rohani said in a speech that the unveiling of the mobile air-to-surface missile system that since Iran's "enemies don't accept logic, we cannot respond with logic."
In an effort to prop up the agreement, Macron offered this week to either soften sanctions on Iran or provide a compensation mechanism "to enable the Iranian people to live better" in return for full compliance with the pact.
Tehran contends it has not violated the agreement.
With reporting by IRNA, ILNA, Reuters and AFP
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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