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Iran foreign minister makes surprise visit to France during G7 but has no plans to meet with US

Key Points
  • Iran's foreign minister flew into the French resort hosting a G7 summit on Sunday, an unexpected twist to a meeting already troubled by differences between U.S. President Donald Trump and Western allies over a raft of issues, including Iran.
  • Mohammad Javad Zarif was holding talks with his French counterpart to assess what conditions could lead to a de-escalation of tension between Tehran and Washington, a French official said.
  • The French official said that at this stage there was no plan for Zarif to meet members of U.S. President Donald Trump's delegation at the summit venue, the Basque beachside town of Biarritz in southwest France.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Getty Images

Iran's foreign minister flew into the French resort hosting a G7 summit on Sunday, an unexpected twist to a meeting already troubled by differences between U.S. President Donald Trump and Western allies over a raft of issues, including Iran.

Mohammad Javad Zarif was holding talks with his French counterpart to assess what conditions could lead to a de-escalation of tension between Tehran and Washington, a French official said.

The French official said that at this stage there was no plan for Zarif to meet members of U.S. President Donald Trump's delegation at the summit venue, the Basque beachside town of Biarritz in southwest France.

Iranian U.N. mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi posted on Twitter: "No meeting with Americans in Biarritz."

Asked about reports of Zarif's arrival at Biarritz, which had been closed for the Saturday-Monday summit of the seven industrialised nations, Trump said: "No comment".

European leaders have struggled to calm a deepening confrontation between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled his country out of Iran's internationally brokered 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Earlier on Sunday at the summit, Trump appeared to brush aside French efforts to mediate with Iran, saying that while he was happy for Paris to reach out to Tehran to defuse tensions he would carry on with his own initiatives.

France said G7 leaders had agreed President Emmanuel Macron should hold talks and pass on messages to Iran.

However, Trump, who has pushed a maximum pressure policy on Iran, distanced himself from the proposal, saying he had not even discussed it.

Macron, who has taken the lead in trying to defuse tensions, fearing that a collapse of the nuclear deal could set the Middle East ablaze, met Zarif on Friday.

The aim was to discuss plans to ease the crisis, including reducing some U.S. sanctions or providing Iran with an economic compensation mechanism.