Donald Trump brushed off French outreach to Tehran on Sunday – saying he ‘can’t stop people from talking’ to one another – as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s plane landed in Biarritz unexpectedly.
It wasn’t clear whether Trump knew that Zarif was on his way when he made the remark. A reporter had asked about a proposal from Emmanuel Macron to lift a U.S. oil embargo as a starting point for nuclear talks.
Asked in a later meeting, once Zarif’s presence in the city that’s hosting the G7 had been confirmed, if he’d be sitting down with him, Trump told press: ‘No comment.’
Donald Trump brushed off French outreach to Tehran on Sunday – saying he ‘can’t stop people from talking’ to one another – as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s plane landed in Biarritz unexpectedly
Zarif made a surprise visit to the G7 summit in Biarritz but was not expected to meet Donald Trump or any other American officials, the French presidency said
It wasn’t clear when Trump found out that Zarif was on his way to Biarritz
While the U.S. president was announcing a trade agreement between the United States and Japan alongside the Japanese prime minister, his chief economic advisers were holding an impromptu briefing reporters.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested that Trump could meet with Zarif before the summit’s conclusion.
‘The president has said before that to the extent that Iran wants to sit down and negotiate, he would not set preconditions to those negotiations,’ he said after an appearance on Fox News from the press filing center.
Having already been asked about private talks between leaders about Russian President Vladimir Putin and whether he’d be invited when the U.S. hosts the summit next year, Mnuchin said, ‘I’m not going to make any more comments about who’s here, and who’s not here, and what conversations may or may not be going on.’
The French government said that Zarif would not be attending the Biarritz summit or meeting with world leaders while he was in town.
But Trump is unpredictable. At the end of June, he became the first U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, after he floated surprise talks.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration sanctioned Zarif personally. He claims that he was invited to the White House to meet with Trump beforehand but declined.
Tehran said this week that Iran will not bow to the United States’ demands that it stop producing missile until Trump eases up on sanctions that prohibit companies from buying the nation’s oil without stiff punishment.
Macron said in advance of the summit that he hoped to discuss the nuclear pact with Iran that the United States left, triggering the sanctions and infuriating Tehran. At a luncheon with Trump on Saturday, he reiterated his resolve to find a new solution.
‘We agreed on what we wanted to say jointly on Iran,’ he claimed in a television interview that aired on Sunday. ‘There is a message from the G7 on our objectives and the fact that we share them is important, which avoids divisions that in the end weaken everybody.’
He added, ‘Everyone wants to avoid a conflict, Donald Trump was extremely clear on that point.’
But Trump told reporters there had been ‘no discussion’ of a communique to or joint statement on Iran.
‘No, I haven’t discussed that. No,’ he said of the information.
Trump said he support’s Macron’s efforts to mediate the situation, telling a reporter, ‘Sure. And I also support Prime Minister Abe’s outreach because he’s also speaking to Iran, and they have a very good relationship, from what I understand.
‘But Iran is no longer the same country it was — as it was two and a half years ago. But we’ll do our own outreach. But, you know, I can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk.’
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