Macron pushes G7 unity on Iran, Trump not so keen

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France’s President Emmanuel Macron, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump around the G7 meeting table | Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty Images

French president hails joint message to Tehran but US leader says countries will do their own outreach.

BIARRITZ, France — G7 leaders agreed to send a common message to Iran, French President Emmanuel Macron declared Sunday, but U.S. President Donald Trump said each country would do its own thing.

“We agreed on what we are going to tell Iran, together. There is a G7 message on our objectives,” Macron told French television, summarizing a discussion leaders had over dinner on Saturday night at the G7 summit he is hosting in the coastal city of Biarritz.

“We all agree on two very clear things: We do not want Iran to get the nuclear bomb and we do not want an escalation and destabilization of the region,” he said.

A French diplomatic official went further, saying the leaders — including Trump — had given Macron authority to speak to Iran’s leaders and convey the joint message.

“G7 leaders agreed that [Macron], as president of the G7, could speak to Iranian authorities and send them a message on the basis of what was discussed at the dinner,” the official said.

But, speaking to reporters on Sunday as he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the summit, Trump did not sound quite on the same page. Asked if he had signed off on a joint statement that Macron will deliver to Iran from the G7 countries, he replied: “No, I haven’t discussed that.”

Asked if he supported Macron’s outreach to Iranian authorities, he replied “sure” but added that he also supports Abe’s contacts with Iran.

“We’ll do our own outreach … but we can’t stop others from their outreach,” he said. “If they want to talk, they can talk.”

Earlier this month, Trump slapped down Macron on Twitter for his contacts with Iran, saying “mixed messages” were making diplomacy with Tehran harder.

“I know Emmanuel means well, as do all others, but nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself,” Trump tweeted. “No one is authorized in any way, shape, or form, to represent us!”

The comments from Macron and Trump in Biarritz highlighted that while Europe and the United States may have common objectives on Iran, they have deep differences over how to achieve those goals.

Trump is pursuing a policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran, having withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — negotiated by the Obama administration and European powers — and reimposed economic sanctions.

The EU and its signatories of the deal — France, Germany and Britain — have all stood by the pact, which offered sanctions relief in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.

France has taken a lead in recent months in trying to reduce tensions between Iran and the West, which diplomats fear could spill over into a military conflict. French officials have been seeking a way to allow Iran to resume exporting its oil for a limited amount of time, in exchange for Iran reversing its recent breaches of the nuclear deal.

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