Macron on rescue mission as Iran N-deal hangs in balance
Washington, April 23
French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington for a state visit likely to be dominated by differences over trade and the nuclear accord with Iran.As Macron headed west, the Iranian government urged European leaders to convince US President Donald Trump not to tear up the 2015 deal between Tehran and six world powers. Allies also spoke out in support of it.Macron said on Sunday there was no “Plan B” for keeping a lid on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.He is on something of a rescue mission for what is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Trump has said he will scrap unless European allies fix what he called “terrible flaws” by mid-May.Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on European leaders to support it.The deal reached between six powers — all of whom but Germany are nuclear-armed — and Tehran put curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.Macron said on Fox News on Sunday that it would be better to protect the deal instead of to get rid of it as there was no other plan. “Is this agreement perfect and this JCPOA a perfect thing for our relationship with Iran? No. But for nuclear-what do you have? As a better option? I don’t see it,” he said.Macron’s visit is the first time Trump has hosted a state visit since he took power in January 2017. While the French leader has tried to develop a close relationship with Trump since he took office in May, he has so far seen little tangible results on issues from Iran to climate politics.The two men will get a sense of their two countries’ shared history during an evening meal on Monday night at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, the first US President and Revolutionary War commander whose alliance with France was critical to victory over the British.Working meetings will be held at the White House on Tuesday before Macron addresses Congress the following day, the anniversary of the day that French General Charles de Gaulle addressed a Joint Session of Congress in 1960.Trump and the 40-year-old French leader began their friendship a year ago in Belgium with a jaw-clenching handshake.