“Israeli officials said that although Trump didn’t meet Zarif, they think U.S.-Iran direct talks are just a matter of time.”
By World Israel News
“While Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was making his way to France for a surprise visit at the G7 summit on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his team scrambled to make sure President Trump wouldn’t meet with him,” reports the American-based Axios news outlet, citing U.S. and Israeli officials as its sources.
Headlining its story as a “scoop,” Axios says that “Netanyahu frantically tried to get President Trump on the phone – who was in back-to-back meetings and couldn’t take the call – while his office contacted multiple senior Trump administration officials, trying to connect the two leaders.”
The prime minister reportedly was worried that the U.S. president “would let French President Emmanuel Macron talk him into holding an unscheduled meeting with Zarif.”
Macron was not only the host of the G7 event, but had also been at the forefront of recently-attempted mediation efforts aimed at calming growing tensions with Tehran.
“The Israelis feared that a Zarif meeting could have made Trump more likely to agree to a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – leading to a showy summit and a long, open-ended diplomatic process that would take the pressure off of the Iranian regime,” reports Axios.
“Trump has made it clear he’s willing to meet with the Iranians without preconditions, but his administration recently sanctioned Zarif and U.S. officials said a meeting with him would have been highly inappropriate,” notes the U.S.-based news service.
“The White House was blindsided by the arrival of the Iranian foreign minister at the G7 summit,” reported NBC News, citing three U.S. officials as its source.
“Macron threw a curveball at the Americans – irritating some senior Trump administration officials – by inviting Zarif ,” said Axios.
The Group of Seven is comprised of France, the U.S., Italy, Japan, Canada, Germany, and the U.K.
Netanyahu ultimately got to speak with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
On Sunday night, Zarif tweeted that he had met with Macron “on the sidelines” of the G7 summit and held “extensive talks” with a couple of French cabinet ministers, which was followed by a “joint briefing for UK/Germany.”
Zarif wrote that “Iran’s active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues,” adding that the “road ahead is difficult. But worth trying.”
“U.S. officials said Trump decided not to meet Zarif regardless of Netanyahu’s messages, and they told the Israelis of Trump’s decision on Sunday,” Axios reports.
“Senior Israeli officials said that although Trump didn’t meet Zarif, they think direct talks between the U.S. and Iran are just a matter of time” and that “a meeting between Trump and Rouhani could take place as soon as the U.N. General Assembly opens in New York at the end of September,” the news outlet adds.