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Sunday 20 October 2019

Iranian president defends foreign minister’s visit to G7

Hassan Rouhani said a solution had to be found to the nuclear deal impasse.

Hassan Rouhani (PA)
Hassan Rouhani (PA)

By Associated Press Reporters

Iran’s president has defended his foreign minister’s surprise visit to the G7 summit, saying he is also ready to go anywhere to negotiate a way out of the crisis following the pullout of the US from a nuclear deal.

Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech: “If I knew that going to a meeting and visiting a person would help my country’s development and resolve the problems of the people, I would not miss it.”

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was a surprise arrival at the summit in Biarritz after being invited by French President Emmanuel Macron who is hosting the meeting of world leaders.

Mr Rouhani stressed that “we have to negotiate, we have to find a solution, and we have to solve the problem”.

He added there will be a meeting of Iranian officials later in the day to discuss the visit.

A French official said Mr Macron personally told US president Donald Trump that Mr Zarif was in France. His visit has been considered a high-stakes gamble for the French president.

Mr Trump later said he wasn’t surprised by the invitation.

He said he did not want to say when Mr Macron had spoken to him about Mr Zarif’s visit but added: “He asked me. I don’t consider that disrespectful at all, especially when he asked me for approval.”

Earlier in the day Mr Trump had curtly told reporters he had “no comment” on Mr Zarif’s presence. Officials said the White House was not aware in advance of the invitation to Mr Zarif.

For several months, Mr Macron has assumed a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unravelling since Mr Trump pulled the US out of the agreement.

Mr Macron had earlier outlined details of a French plan to ease tensions with Iran by allowing Iran to export oil for a limited amount of time, said a French diplomat.

In exchange, Iran would need to fully put in place the 2015 nuclear deal, reduce tensions in the Persian Gulf and open talks.

The plan was met with a sceptical reception by Mr Trump, and the White House paid only a cursory mention of the Gulf in its official report of the lunch meeting.

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