(Persia Digest) - Iran has been under pressure from Western nations over its reported desire to obtain nuclear weapons – but analysis suggests that French President Emmanuel Macron may be the EU leader who bails out Tehran.
Kumail Jaffer writes in The Express that Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani has traded barbs in the past with the likes of US President Donald Trump and even Boris Johnson, but French boss Macron has stayed out of the line of fire due to the pair’s alleged working relationship. Those suspicions were strengthened today after Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas claimed that the two have been in contact and announced a possible visit for Mr Rouhani to France.
He said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes friendly solutions.
“There have been contacts between President Macron and President Rouhani and also exchange of diplomats.
“There is a possibility of Mr Rouhani’s visit to France and we will announce if it is finalised.
“Iran always leaves the door open for negotiation and seeks to expand bilateral and regional cooperation to de-escalate tensions.
Macron has been one of the main parties seeking to hold the Iran nuclear deal together.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was broken last year by Trump and soured relations between Washington and Tehran.
Following Iran’s decision to mirror Trump’s move and pull out of the agreement themselves last month, Mr Macron confirmed he was keen to “engage in a de-escalation of tensions related to Iranian nuclear issue”.
A statement read: “The President of the Republic has agreed with his Iranian counterpart to explore by July 15 conditions to resume dialogue between the parties.”
French officials defied Trump earlier this month after the US President slammed Macron for allegedly meddling in negotiations.
He said: "I know Emmanuel means well, as do all others, but nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself. No one is authorised in any way, shape, or form, to represent us!"
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian responded, however, by asserting French sovereignty and hinted at a growing relationship between Macron and Mr Rouhani.
He added: “On Iran, France speaks with complete sovereignty. It is working hard for peace and security in the region, it is working to facilitate a de-escalation in tensions and it needs no permission to do so.
“Macron is of course keeping the US authorities informed. All efforts must be brought together to avoid this conflictual situation becoming a dangerous confrontation.”
Rumours of an even deeper relationship soared after Al-Monitor claimed Macron had invited Mr Rouhani to the G7 summit next week.
Though this was swiftly denied, French officials did confirm that Paris was willing to commit further to simmering tensions between Iran and the US.
France, Germany and Britain have set up a special purpose vehicle called Instex, a vehicle for barter-based trade with Iran, in an effort to protect Iran’s economy from US sanctions.
Sources told Al-Monitor that Mr Macron had personally raised the establishment of a $15billion (£12.4 billion) credit line for Instex.
A diplomat said: “France is ready to work with the E3, United States, and guarantors of the JCPOA, without predetermining an amount or a financial mechanism that will require in any case international cooperation and in-depth expertise.”
Russian President Vladmir Putin will miss out on the summit for the sixth year running following Moscow’s expulsion from the G8 in 2014.
He will meet with Macron today, with Iran likely to be high up on the agenda.
Putin has been growing closer to Tehran since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, where the two have worked closely to prop up President Bashar al-Assad.