France: Trump-Rouhani meeting not a priority

French Foreign Minister says his country’s main aim at UN General Assembly is to de-escalate tensions between the United States and Iran.

Elad Benari ,

Jean-Yves Le Drian
Jean-Yves Le Drian

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday that his country’s main aim at this week’s UN General Assembly meeting is to de-escalate tensions between the United States and Iran.

“The meeting between (US) President (Donald) Trump and (Iranian) President (Hassan) Rouhani is not the number one subject. The priority subject is whether we can restart a de-escalation path with the different actors,” Le Drian told reporters, according to Reuters.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been leading an initiative to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran and tried to arrange a meeting between Trump and Rouhani at the General Assembly.

However, Trump last week said he would prefer not to meet with Rouhani. The Iranian President himself made clear that he will not meet Trump unless all sanctions against Tehran are unilaterally lifted by the US.

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal last May. He later imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran, the latest of which went into effect in November of 2018.

Iran, in turn, has scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.

The European signatories to the 2015 deal, which include France, did not agree with Trump’s decision to leave the agreement and vowed to help Iran evade the economic sanctions imposed by the US, shielding companies doing business with the rogue state in an effort to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.