US President Donald Trump said Monday that it was “too early” to meet Tehran’s top diplomat. Mohammad Javad Zarif flew into Biarritz in southern France for the G7 summit on Sunday in an unexpected and dramatic attempt to break a diplomatic deadlock over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme. “It’s too soon to meet, I didn’t want to,” Trump told reporters at the summit, saying he knew that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was going to drop in for unscheduled talks.
“I knew he was coming,” Trump said of the visit, which was engineered by France’s Emmanuel Macron in a bid to break the diplomatic deadlock over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
“I knew everything he (Macron) was doing and I approved everything he was doing,” Trump said, adding the French president “asked for my approval”.
Zarif wrote on Twitter he had met Macron after talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and also gave a briefing for British and German officials. "Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying,” he said.
Zarif’s presence had not been announced and represented an attempt by French host Emmanuel Macron to find a way to soothe spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States.
He was not expected to hold face-to-face talks with US President Donald Trump but the presence of the two men in the same place sparked hopes of a detente.
Earlier, Trump accused France’s President Emmanuel Macron of getting in the way of US policy and sending “mixed signals” to Tehran. "Iran is in serious financial trouble. They want desperately to talk to the US, but are given mixed signals from all of those purporting to represent us, including President Macron of France,” Trump tweeted.
Last year Trump pulled the US out of an international accord designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program and has reimposed sanctions on Iran—and even slapped them on Zarif this week—in an effort to force it to renegotiate the agreement.
Tensions soared in the Gulf in June and July amid attacks on oil tankers, Iran’s downing of an unmanned US surveillance drone and after the US said it had downed an Iranian drone. Trump has said the attack against the US drone prompted him to order a military strike in response, only to call it off at the last minute.