French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Iranian officials before this weekend’s summit of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies to offer proposals on reducing tension between Washington and Tehran, Reuters reported.
Three European powers, including France, have been trying to salvage Iran’s 2015 international accord that curbed the nation’s nuclear ambitions while reducing sanctions on Tehran.
Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact and reimposed sanctions, measures that have slowly pushed Washington and Iran toward a confrontation.
“In the coming hours before the G7, I will have meetings with the Iranians and propose ideas,” Macron said on August 21.
Speaking at the UN on August 20, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Tehran and its proxies of fomenting “terror and unrest” in conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen “with devastating humanitarian consequences.”
Despite an increase in rhetoric that has raised fears of conflict between Iran and the United States, Tehran has maintained that it does not seek confrontation with Washington and that U.S. moves against it are tantamount to bullying.
Trump too has said publicly several times that he is willing to hold talks with the Iranians even as he implements his campaign of "maximum pressure."
Iran’s economy has suffered under the sanctions, which target its oil and financial sectors.
Iran’s oil production has plummeted to 300,000 barrels a day or less while its economy will shrink by 6 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund projects. Unemployment remains high, at 12 percent.
A series of recent attacks on international ships, which the United States has blamed on Iran, and the seizure of a British tanker, have added to volatility in the region and on the global shipping industry.
While Tehran has denied the accusations, Washington has asked its allies jointly to form a maritime patrol to guard shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the world’s oil industry.
On August 21, Australia said it was joining the U.S.-led security mission because "this destabilizing behavior is a threat to Australia's interests in the region."
But Iranian President Hassan Rohani warned later that if the country’s oil exports are choked off completely, international waterways such as the Strait of Hormuz will be less secure.