G7 discussions continue with squabbling, but some progress on Iran

PARIS, The second day of G7 Summit talks got underway Sunday, amid ongoing disagreements between the seven leaders, some of whom traded blows via media on key issues.

The leaders who also met in bilateral sessions to tackle thorny issues like trade and tariffs, media reports said from Biarritz.

Although details were still sketchy, France Info radio reported that the G7 leaders were in agreement that French President Emmanuel Macron should be tasked with delivering a message to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The French President has been selected to pursuing contacts with Iran concerning the growing crisis surrounding its controversial nuclear programs and Iranian decisions to violate the 2015 Vienna Accord limits on uranium production and quality.

Iran says it was responding to US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision in May 2018 to withdraw from the Vienna Accords, which aimed at restricting Iran’s nuclear activities. Tehran also accused the European signatories (E3 – France, Germany, and Britain) of acting too slowly to open parallel trading channels (INSTEX) to help Iran’s beleaguered economy, suffocating under US sanctions.

Macron seems like a natural choice to interact with Iran as he is a strong proponent of keeping the nuclear agreement with Tehran alive. He met in Paris last Friday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss proposals on moving forward but no details of potential measures were revealed, yet the mood on both sides was positive.

Macron will also be tasked with addressing accessory issues to Iran’s nuclear programs, particularly its ballistic missile problem which violates UN Security Council Resolutions and Iran’s “destabilizing” actions in several countries in the Arab Gulf region and beyond.

Sunday in Biarritz was also a day for major bilateral talks, topped in the morning by a first meeting between US President Donald Trump and newly-appointed British Premier Boris Johnson.

Ahead of that meeting Johnson called publicly on Trump to eliminate trade tariffs on many British exports to the US to help Britain face economic challenges after it leaves the European Union (Brexit) on October 31, as is planned at this stage.

Johnson is adamant Britain will leave the EU, with or without a new deal, and he is eager to prepare preferential trade agreements with the US and other non-EU countries, several of them in the British Commonwealth.

After initial hesitation, Trump appears willing to support Johnson achieve a good trade deal.

On live coverage of the initial meeting between the two leaders on France 24 TV, Trump said that Johnson “doesn’t need advice (as) he is the best person for the job.” He praised Johnson and said he will make “a great Prime Minister, in my opinion.” In a major boost to the British leader, Trump said there would be a “great trade agreement” with Britain after the forthcoming Brexit is completed.

Johnson had called for “trade peace” globally and not trade wars, a reference to burgeoning tensions between the US and China and the imposition of heavy tariffs on Chinese imports to the US.

Separately, France 24 reported that Trump told a briefing of local reporters that the US was not responsible for a trade war with China.

In other comments, Trump has threatened tariffs on French wine because Macron agreed to slap a three-percent tax on major US Internet companies known as the “GAFA” group (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon).

The US leader is also warning another G7 member, Germany, that it will place a tax on German car imports to the United States if there is no change to trading rules in several areas.

Source: Kuwait News Agency