Netanyahu: Now is the wrong time to talk with Iran

In a joint press conference with Macron at the G7, Trump spoke of the possibility of meeting soon with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

By REUTERS
August 31, 2019 23:35
3 minute read.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting with

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a meeting with Muslim leaders and scholars in Hyderabad, India, February 15, 2018. (photo credit: DANISH SIDDIQUI/ REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged French President Emmanuel Macron not to promote negotiations with Iran while Tehran was stepping up its destabilizing activity in the Middle East.


“When Iran is stepping up its aggression in the region – it is precisely the wrong time to talk with Iran,” Netanyahu told the French  leader during a telephone call on Friday.

Last weekend, Macron hosted the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France. Among its participants was US President Donald Trump, and Macron arranged for Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to pay a surprise visit to the gathering.

In a joint press conference with Macron at the G7, Trump spoke of the possibility of meeting soon with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

According to accounts from the G7, he did not meet with Zarif.

Netanyahu’s statement to Macron marked his first public comments on the possibility of any Iran negotiations.

Trump has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, particularly on its oil exports, in an attempt to force it to negotiate a deal that would eliminate its ability to produce nuclear weapons and deal with the danger of its ballistic missile program.

The US was part of a 2015 deal with Iran that included the other five world powers: China, Russia, Great Britain, France and Germany.

Last year, the US pulled out of that deal, which was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear capability. The US and Israel felt that the deal was dangerous and left Iran with the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

The European Union is looking to preserve the 2015 deal. Israel has opposed and the US have opposed attempts to preserve that agreement. France has been a vocal supporter of retaining the 2015 deal.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday that the EU would work to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and would welcome any moves to add to its conditions.

“My role... is to preserve the full implementation of the existing agreements,” Mogherini told reporters during an EU foreign ministers meeting in Helsinki. “Again if something else can be built on it, this would be welcomed and accompanied by the European Union. If this new momentum is real, this can build on the work that we have been doing for years.”

Mogherini declined to answer directly when asked if the United States now demanded that Iran to do more than just going back in line with the existing deal’s commitments.
 
“Our work is to continue to ensure that there is full compliance from the Iranian side to its nuclear commitments,” she said.
Separately on Friday, the US Treasury blacklisted an Iranian tanker that it said was headed to Syria.

“Today, the Department of the Treasury took action against the Adrian Darya 1, and designated its captain, Kumar Akhilesh, for acting for or on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Shipping Network under [Executive Order] 13224,” the Treasury said.
 
“The Iranian regime continues to foment regional conflicts, develop and proliferate ballistic missiles, hold foreign citizens hostage, brutalize its own people, and sponsor terrorism on an unprecedented scale,” it added. “It is also expanding its uranium enrichment-related activities. The United States will continue to increase pressure on the Iranian regime until it changes its behavior.”

Zarif tweeted in response: The “US denied us means of defense: We built missiles & US complains. US denied us nuclear fuel: We made it & US complains. Now US engages in piracy & threats to prevent Iran from selling oil to traditional customers. Stop nagging [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo]. We will sell oil to any & all buyers.”


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