Aug 26, 2019, 3:20 PM
Journalist ID: 2078
News Code: 83452360
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Iran's diplomatic overtures shine at G7 summit

Tehran, August 26, IRNA- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s brief visit to the French city of Biarritz, where G7 leaders were meeting, not only overshadowed the annual gathering of the seven developed, industrial states, but also caught the attention of many world leaders. 

Zarif arrived in Biarritz on Sunday just two days after his visit to France and talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian. 

On Friday, he had discussed details of France’s proposals to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the US and later flew to G7 venue to continue those talks not only with French president and foreign ministers but also leaders of Germany and the UK, the three signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

There were few media outlets that didn’t cover the story or didn’t write titles in which they had used the adjective “surprising”. 

For example, Reuter’s story was titled “Shock at G7 summit as Iran's Zarif lands in Biarritz”. According to media reports, G7 leaders were surprised at Zarif’s trip to the venue. “Iranian Official Surprises World Leaders With Unannounced Visit to G-7 Summit” wrote Time Magazine. 

A White House official cited by Reuters said France’s invitation to Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks on the sidelines of the gathering in the southwestern beachside town of Biarritz was “a surprise”. He said Trump was not briefed by Macron about Zarif’s visit. 

Zarif’s arrival in Biarritz appeared to be a covert initiative by French President Emmanuel Macron, a senior European official said, and at least some other leaders were not informed ahead of time, according to the Washington Post that titled “Iran’s Zarif makes surprise trip to G-7, catching Trump off-guard”. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was taken by surprise by a last-minute visit of the Iranian foreign minister to the G7 summit in France, which shook up the first full day of meetings between seven of the world’s most powerful leaders.

Morrison said he had not had any contact with Macron during the visit so far and "wasn’t aware" of the Iranian visit in advance. Asked if he thought Macron’s gambit was provocative he said he "hadn’t really reflected on it" and his government had "already had engagement with the government of Iran" in relation to Australia’s increased military presence.

Last week Australia announced it would join a US-led coalition protecting oil tankers and cargo ships in the Strait of Hormuz, providing surveillance aircraft and a navy frigate, as well as specialist personnel to join the mission’s Bahrain headquarters.

“Something is going on. Iran FM Zarif was in Paris on Friday, and has now suddenly returned and landed in Biarritz. This was not in the cards!” wrote former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, expressing his shock at Zarif’s travel. 

“If the French literally sprung this on the White House with or without prior notice, that's evidence of how little confidence our allies have in either Trump or his senior advisers. Also highlights the incoherence of US policy: potent tactics, no internal consensus on ultimate objective,” according to a tweet from Suzanne Maloney, Iran expert at Brookings' Center for Middle East Policy. 

Laura Rozen of Al-Monitor tweeted that Zarif’s not meeting Trump means the Iranians resisted against the US president’s desire to have a photo up with him.

But, Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, that was sanctioned by Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday, expressed his anger at Zarif’s presence in France. 

Josh Rogin, a columnist for the CNN tweeted that Macron told the other G7 leaders including Trump last night at dinner that Iranian FM Zarif was coming to Biarritz today. 

Other media reports indicate that Trump was aware of Zarif’s visit even on Saturday. 

“A senior French official says French President Emmanuel Macron personally informed U.S. President Donald Trump that Iran’s chief diplomat was invited as G-7 leaders gathered for their summit,” according to the Associated Press. 

The French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive discussions, would not say when or how Trump was informed of the surprise arrival Sunday of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The official was reported to have said that France acts transparently with its European and American allies. 

The French government described the talks with Zarif as positive and constructive. The Americans haven’t commented yet. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed a brief visit by Iran’s foreign minister, saying Mohammad Javad Zarif’s presence is “a parallel event in the same place, but not a G-7 movement, and now we must see whether the immediate communication of how the talks went yesterday produces further possibilities to speak and perhaps negotiate with Iran.”

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