French official said the decision to invite Zarif had been taken “in agreement with the United States, in perfect harmony.”
The French presidency on Sunday described talks at the G7 summit in Biarritz between French leaders and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as “positive” and said the discussions, which also included Germany and Britain, would continue. "The discussions are positive and are ongoing,” an official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said of the talks, which drew in both Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as well as German and British officials.
The French official added that the decision to invite Zarif had been taken “in agreement with the United States, in perfect harmony.”
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.
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.