Biarritz, France, Aug 26 (AFP/APP):G7 leaders close their summit Monday with discussion of world problems including the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest, but overshadowed by President Donald Trump’s trade wars and questions over the group’s unity.
The summit in Biarritz, a high-end surfers’ paradise in southwestern France, saw a dramatic shift of focus Sunday when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew in to discuss the diplomatic deadlock on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
Zarif’s presence had not been expected and it represented a gamble by French host Emmanuel Macron who is seeking to soothe spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States.
The Iranian top diplomat didn’t meet Trump, French diplomats said, but the presence of the two men in the same place at least sparked hopes of a detente. Just this July, the US government imposed heavy sanctions seeking to hamper Zarif’s travel, and effectively banning him from the United States.
“Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying,” the US-educated Zarif tweeted after meeting Macron and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, as well as British and German representatives.
French officials said Trump, who has imposed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy over its nuclear programme, had been aware of the arrival. The sources suggested that the secretive visit had also been discussed during an impromptu two-hour lunch between the US president and Macron on Saturday.
“We work with full transparency with the Americans,” one diplomat told reporters on condition of anonymity, despite US media reports that the White House had been taken by surprise.