Iran and the EU-3, Germany, UK and France have been sending each other mixed messages as world leaders gathered in New York for the 74th UN General Assembly meeting.
French President Macron held a rather long meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani upon his arrival in New York on Monday September 23. Very little came out of the meeting other than they discussed bilateral ties and how to save the 2015 nuclear deal.
The meeting was held a short while after the leaders of the EU trio blamed Iran for last week's attack on Saudi oil establishments in clear show of support for the Unite States' position.
"The time has come for Iran to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear programme as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles programme and other means of delivery," a joint statement by Britain, France and Germany said.
More of such comments can be expected from the delegates of Israel and Saudi Arabia in the coming days.
It is interesting to see that like the United States, Europe is once again insisting on including Iran's missile program in possible talks in the future.
At the same time, Europe and the UK, the country with toughest stance on Iran among the trio, emphasize the importance of the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, as a foundation for further talks with Iran.
Like an unfortunate child after divorce, the JCPOA is the only bond between Iran and the West. The fading deal reminds the two sides of their good times before and their tough responsibilities in the future.
Around the same time Europe was condemning Iran for aggression in the Persian Gulf, Tehran announced that it has released British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in an apparent gesture to win UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's heart. Incidentally, Johnson was the first European leader to blame Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia
Iranian authorities had accused the Stena Impero and its crew of failing to observe international maritime law at the time of its seizure on July 19, two weeks after British forces near Gibraltar captured an Iranian oil tanker that has since been released and renamed the Adrian Darya 1.
Psychologically, regardless of the good gesture Iran showed by releasing the tanker, it reminded everyone, particularly in the UK of the vengeful act that led to the detaining of the ship in the first place.
Another bitter reminiscent of a bad relationship occurred when Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in New York that he was ready to help the release of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been in jail for no reason in Iran since 2006, but the British failed to pay the money for an old deal with Iran's previous regime more than 40 years ago. It was possibly the worst way of addressing a human rights issue.
In a similar development, State Department's chief representative for Iran, Brian Hook reminded during a speech at the Asia Society Monday evening that Iran received a large sum and released five U.S. prisoners upon signing the 2015 nuclear deal, but shortly afterward, it arrested and jailed another five U.S. citizens.
While, regardless of continued evasions and approaches still some in New York hope a meeting between Trump and Rouhani can be feasible even if no solution to the long standing Tehran – Washington saga is in sight, efforts to justify ruthless behavior could undermine any attempt to bring about a true rapprochement.