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Zarif Leaves G7 Without Agreement But Vows To Continue Diplomacy

This handout photo obtained from the twitter account of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shows the parties at talks. French president Macron and his foreign minister talking with Zarif accompanied by his deputy Abbas Araqchi. August 25, 2016

After a short visit and hours of talks on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif left the G7 summit in Biarritz, saying it is worth to continue deplomacy.

Zarif had unexpectedly arrived at the venue on Sunday in what appeared to be an effort by the French to make a breakthrough in reducing tensions between the United States and Iran.

A French official said Zarif had held talks for almost 3.5 hours, including 30 minutes with President Emmanuel Macron.

Later, “a European diplomat” told Reuters that leaders of G7 nations failed at a summit dinner on Saturday to make progress in persuading U.S. President Donald Trump to reissue oil sanction waivers.

Zarif himself sounded eager to continue diplomacy. He tweeted, " Met @EmmanuelMacron on sidelines of after extensive talks with @JY_LeDrian & Finance Min. followed by a joint briefing for UK/Germany.
Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying."

President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a plan to both sides, which revolves around lessening U.S. sanctions in return for Iran to abide by the 2015 nuclear agreement and reduce tensions in the region.

The sanction that most hurts Iran is the total ban on Iranian oil exports and Macron has reportedly proposed for U.S. to reintroduce exemptions for some countries to buy oil from Tehran.

When last November the U.S. imposed its oil sanction, it also introduced “waivers”, which enabled a handful of countries to continue buying Iranian oil in a limited quantity. That enabled Tehran to sell about one million barrels a day, which provided a minimum income to finance an austerity budget.

Before sanctions were imposed, Iran was exporting well above two million barrels of oil per day. After sanctions, it lost billions of dollars in oil revenue, essential for financing its economic, political and military needs.

However, Sunday’s talks might have been a total failure. The European official who spoke with Reuters said the talks had been positive and would continue during the leaders' summit this evening and tomorrow.

Earlier when Zarif arrived at the G7meeting, officials said that no talks wer planned between him and American officials.

A source with the French president’s office told Reuters, "Yesterday there was a substantial discussion between G7 leaders and it is important to now update Zarif in order to keep closing the gap...on the conditions with which we could de-escalate the tensions and create breathing space for negotiations."

U.S. President Donald Trump earlier in August accused Macron of sending “mixed signals” to Iran over possible talks with Washington.

"Iran is in serious financial trouble. They want desperately to talk to the U.S., but are given mixed signals from all of those purporting to represent us, including President Macron of France," Trump tweeted on August 8.

With reporting by Reuters