Sunday, 22 September 2019

France invites Iran to G-7 to ease tensions

US President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 25, 2019. Photograph:( Reuters )

BIARRITZ: A European Union source is describing the leaders’ dinner at the Group of Seven as “quite tense” as leaders disagreed with US President Donald Trump over issues including how to deal with Russia.

The person speaking on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to talk publicly said that Trump, who has proposed inviting Russia back to the G-7 summit, took the position that Russia was a major power that needed to be included in discussions.

Other participants said the G-7 was the wrong format since it is a group of democracies.

The difference from Saturday’s dinner carried over into Sunday’s session on trade with Trump favouring his tariff-backed push against China and other acknowledging China as a systemic problem but favouring a multilateral approach.

During a brief discussion of digital taxation Trump did not repeat his threat to tax French wine in response to a French move to tax internet companies who do billions in business there but are taxed elsewhere, a move Trump has said is aimed at US firms.

A top French official says French President Emmanuel Macron made the decision to invite Iran’s top diplomat to Biarritz after the dinner among G-7 leaders of the world’s major democracies.

The Saturday night dinner involved tense exchanges over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions since US President Donald Trump withdrew from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal. Macron had met just Friday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and decided to invite him to France again, this time to Biarritz.

The official did not rule out another meeting between Macron and Zarif, who was speaking Sunday with France’s foreign minister. Asked about a possible meeting between Trump and the Iranian, who faces US sanctions, the official said, “not at this stage.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive decision.

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