France has dismissed claims that President Emmanuel Macron had invited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the G7 summit scheduled to be held later this month in the southwestern French town of Biarritz.
Al-Monitor raised optimism of a European initiative to save the nuclear deal with Iran after reporting that Macron was looking to preserve the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and that last week he spoke with his counterpart in Tehran for 100-minutes on the phone to discuss the possibilities for saving the deal. The paper cited two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, who said that Macron had invited President Rouhani to attend the G-7 summit.
Macron is said to have promised that many issues between Tehran and Washington beyond the JCPOA would be solved. Rouhani, however, declined to attend or send a representative, which naturally would have been Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
A French diplomatic source poured water over these claims today denying that Macron had extended an invitation to Rouhani for the G7 summit, which prior to Russia’s suspension in 2014, was known as the G8.
The French may have entertained the possibility of inviting the Iranians to the G7 meeting to de-escalate tensions in the Gulf by getting their European partners to speak directly with their counterparts in Iran at a major summit. They have expressed a strong desire to save the nuclear deal despite American opposition.
It’s also possible that they changed their mind following resistance from the US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy against Iran which has seen tensions in the region escalate to dangerous levels. In a move that is unprecedented, the White House extended sanctions to include supreme leaders Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Zarif.
Under these conditions it is unclear how US officials would have been able to meet with Iran’s most senior diplomat.