Zarif Set to Visit France for Defusion of Iran-West Tensions

Zarif Set to Visit France for Defusion of Iran-West Tensions Zarif Set to Visit France for Defusion of Iran-West Tensions

Iran's chief diplomat is scheduled to pay a visit to Paris on Friday amid the standoff between Tehran and Washington, as the French president reiterated his support for defusion of tensions. 
During a meeting in Stockholm with Iranian expatriates in Sweden on Monday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he will meet with French officials, including President Emmanuel Macron and his counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, IRNA reported. 
Zarif had earlier visited Kuwait and Finland, and was set to leave for Norway after meeting senior officials in Sweden, including Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom. His tour will also take him to China and Japan, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi.
Washington's major European allies Britain, France and Germany have been at odds with the US administration over Iran since last year, when US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international deal to give Iran access to world trade in return for curbs on its nuclear program. 
In recent months, the United States has sharply tightened sanctions on Iran with the aim of halting its oil exports.
Iran has reacted to renewed US sanctions by retreating from some of its nuclear commitments made under the deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Europeans have warned that heightened confrontation could lead to an accidental war in the Persian Gulf.


Easing of Tensions 

Ahead of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Macron said Paris supports the easing of tensions over Iran's nuclear program. 
"France is interested in the de-escalation of the crisis over the Iran nuclear issue," he was quoted as saying by Russia's TASS news agency.
The French president said last month that he and President Hassan Rouhani had agreed to seek conditions for a resumption of dialogue on the Iranian nuclear question, Reuters reported.  
Zarif on Monday said Iran is not interested in talks with Washington, but any mediation should focus on bringing the United States back to the 2015 nuclear deal.
He was speaking after meeting Finland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto who said Europe was doing its best to salvage the deal. 
In a tweet, Zarif said he had "fruitful meetings" with Finnish officials, including president Sauli Niinisto, whose country holds the current EU presidency.
"Discussed what EU needs to do to save #JCPOA and protect its interest in freedom of navigation," he said, referring to recent maritime tensions between Iran and the West. 
The European signatories to the deal have set up a trade conduit with Iran, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges or INSTEX.
If the mechanism goes ahead, it would initially deal only in products such as pharmaceuticals and foods, which are not subject to US sanctions.
Iranian officials have repeatedly said INSTEX must cover oil sales, or provide substantial credit facilities for it to be beneficial.

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