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Macron, Rouhani Agree To Work To Preserve Nuclear Deal

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Iranian President Hassan Rohani.
French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed in a phone conversation to work together to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Macron’s office says, although the Iranian leader insisted the terms were “not negotiable.”

The Elysee Palace said on April 29 that Macron and Rouhani had agreed "to work in the coming weeks on preserving the contents of the 2015 agreement with all its components."

It added that Macron also proposed that the discussions be broadened to cover "three additional, indispensable subjects" -- Tehran's ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities after 2025, and "the main regional crises" in the Middle East.

However, Rouhani told that Macron that the deal must remain exactly as it is and that the terms “are by no means negotiable."

"The nuclear deal or any other subject under its pretext is not negotiable in any way," the Iranian presidency quoted Rouhani as telling Macron.

"Iran will not accept any restrictions beyond its commitments," Rouhani added.

The statements did not immediately address how the accord could be preserved if Iran insists it must remain without changes and still potentially address concerns of U.S. President Donald Trump and other allies.

The deal provides Tehran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program. Trump has accused Iran of violating the spirit of the accord by testing ballistic missiles and by helping to finance insurgent violence in the region.

Rohani did tell Macron he was willing to enter into dialogue on other regional issues.

"Iran is ready to negotiate to ensure regional stability and security, in particular to combat terrorism," he added.

The comments come as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel on a Middle East trip to brief regional allies about Trump’s demands that what he sees as major flaws in the nuclear deal be corrected.

"If we can't fix it, he [Trump] is going to withdraw from the deal," Pompeo told reporters after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on April 29.

Other signatories to the accord -- France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China -- have urged Washington to remain a part of the deal, although the Western allies have also expressed concerns about the terms.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's office issued a statement saying that May, Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had agreed that the nuclear deal is the best way of curbing Iran's nuclear program, but added that it could need to be broadened to cover other issues, including ballistic missiles.

Macron returned from a trip to Washington this week to meet with Trump to discuss Iran, among other matters.

With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters