France sneaks into the Geneva US-Iran talks to claim its business share in Tehran

Mohammed Javad Zarif

Mohammed Javad Zarif, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Afairs and Security Policy (EC Audiovisual Services)

The just-concluded bilateral talks between the US and Iran, held Monday and Tuesday in Geneva, can be determinant for the future, shaping of a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the West. The talks were announced last Saturday and indeed took place during a decisive time, after a hot winter of discussions and right before the start of another round of multilateral negotiations between Iran and the world powers in Vienna, from June 16 to 20. The content of the Geneva talks is rather huge.

We should say that the talks seemed to be very important from the very first minute, when the US State Department significantly announced that the American delegation would have included William J. Burns, the deputy secretary of state, and Jacob J. Sullivan, the national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. A few hours later, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abbas Araqchi, made another important revelation, which put the European Union under the spotlight in this delicate phase. “Tomorrow’s meeting will be tripartite. Helga Schmidt, the deputy of EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, will be present as well,” Araqchi said.
The meetings were described as “consultations” rather than “negotiations”, and came “at an important juncture of the negotiations, and they will give us a timely opportunity to exchange views,” a senior administration official – who declined to be identified – said in a statement.

The situation after the two-day talks seems to be a bit controversial. What appears is that in the beginning, especially on Monday, there was some kind of optimistic feeling about the meeting, when the leading Iranian negotiator described the first day’s talks as “positive and constructive”. The Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted Araqchi as saying that, after the first five hours of talks with the American delegation on Monday, “the dialogue with the United States took place in a positive climate and was constructive”.

Meanwhile something else happened, something that deserves careful analysis: the French Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius announced that also direct talks between France and Iran will be held this week. “Bilateral discussions between France and Iran will take place on Wednesday,” Fabius said on Monday at a news conference in Algiers. IRNA reported Abbas Araqchi to say that the Islamic Republic planned to hold other bilateral talks as well with the other world powers, true, but those meetings were not in the leaders’ agenda when Geneva talks began.

An explanation to this “French turn” might be in the fact that the other P5+1 countries – especially the Europeans – allegedly didn’t like very much this private US / Iran meeting, and therefore claimed their share in this. Not even the last-minute participation of the EU, with the participation of Catherine Ashton, could change this feeling. “The Americans gave us notice about these talks and we also said we would have talks with the Iranians, Fabius announced on Monday. The fact that a senior US administration official cared to say that the talks “will give us a timely opportunity to exchange views in the context of the next P5+ 1 round in Vienna”, on Saturday, might prove that the US have felt a bit of tension.

This goes with previously announced separate discussions that Iran is holding with Russia in Rome today. The risk here is just that all this private discussions between the P5+1 countries and Iran – which are still a good thing, as long as they bring positive contributions to global stability– could jeopardize the negotiation process, and make it more fragile.

Geneva talks are important because they were indeed a bid to rescue faltering negotiations to end a huge dispute, as pre-set to reach a comprehensive deal on 20 July, which will limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international economic sanctions. Last winter was crucial for the Iranian nuclear question, with the US and Iran reaching the first formal agreement in 34 years. That happened always in Geneva, on 24 November 2013, under the name of Geneva interim agreement, officially titled the “Joint Plan of Action”.

The pact, formally signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries, consists of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange of reduced economic sanctions on the middle-eastern country. The implementation of the agreement began on 20 January 2014 and then Senior Officials of the P5+1 and Iran met again in February in Vienna and agreed on a framework for future negotiations. The next round of the nuclear talks between Iran and six major powers took place again in Vienna last month, but ran into difficulties, with each side accusing the other of having unrealistic demands in negotiations. Especially Iran criticized Washington saying that the US have made excessive demands beyond the agreements made in the previous rounds.

What is sure is that both the US and Iran are making concrete efforts to bridge the differences after 40 years of silence, and so are trying to press hard to complete the longstanding dispute. The July 20 deadline is here, but there are positive signs anyway. Abbas Araqchi said on Monday that he remained optimistic about meeting the deadline, forecasting the prospect of a six month extension of the agreement “so the negotiations can continue,” Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.

The Geneva talks confirmed the need for secondary steps to close big questions between Iran and the West, but also showed that this is not an intimate exclusive business, between Tehran and Washington.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Training for staff in early childhood education and care must promote practices that foster children’s learning, development and well-being

These countries have the most nuclear reactors

Record numbers of people in the UK have applied to study nursing

The British “nonsense”, the relaxed Commissioner and the TTIP “chiaroscuro” at this week’s Council

‘A trusted voice’ for social justice: Guterres celebrates 100 years of the International Labour Organization

Kids who live in the countryside have better motor skills, a study in Finland has found

“No labels for entrepreneurs!”, a young business leader from Italy cries out

Code of Practice on disinformation: Commission welcomes new prospective signatories and calls for strong and timely revision

No way out for Eurozone’s stagnating economy

South Sudan: UN calls for end to inter-communal clashes, attacks against aid workers

Here’s why human-robot collaboration is the future of manufacturing

JADE Spring Meeting 2017– day 1: Excellence awards, panel discussion, keynote speeches

EC v Samsung: A whole year to compile a case

Can medical students be prepared for Global Health ethical issues?

UN rights chief ‘strongly’ condemns ‘shocking’ mass executions in Saudi Arabia

Countries are piling on record amounts of debt amid COVID-19. Here’s what that means

Young activists do the talking as UN marks World Children’s Day

Some endangered languages manage to thrive. Here’s how

Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register ‘Right to Cure’ initiative

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

Global warming: our responsibility

COVID-19 has hit Black Americans hardest. Healing this divide would lift the nation

Will COVID-19 usher in a new culture of outdoor living and dining?

From Hangzhou to Rwanda: how Jack Ma brought Chinese e-commerce to Africa

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

The importance of including palliative care in the Universal Health Coverage and how to achieve it

5 Ways Companies Can Progress More Women into Leadership Roles

Health Care Workers’ Safety and Health as Assets in the Fight Against COVID-19

GSMA announces speakers for Mobile 360 Series-West Africa

This is how we make basic income a reality

Revealed: danger and squalor for cleaners who remove human waste by hand

‘Global trust’ declining, ‘our world needs stepped-up global leadership’

UN Envoy ‘confident’ deal can be reached to avert further violence around key Yemeni port city

EU boosts humanitarian aid budget for 2021 as needs rise

The final countdown towards achieving the 2030 Agenda: the contribution of future health(care) professionals

Vaccine nationalism – and how it could affect us all

Investing in health workers yields ‘triple dividend’, WHO chief says in New Year’s message

Palliative care and Universal Health Coverage: how to advocate for the inclusion of palliative care in UHC

Commission (Eurostat) publishes first statistics on short-stay accommodation booked via collaborative economy platforms

Overcoming the paralysis of trust management across a fractured IT landscape

AI can help us unlock the world’s most complex operating system – the human body

Human rights breaches in Eritrea, Nicaragua and Saudi Arabia

Cross-border travel is confusing after COVID – this framework can help borders reopen safely

EU car manufacturers worry about an FTA with Japan

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Cutting emissions, one bog at a time

Artificial Intelligence in policing: safeguards needed against mass surveillance

World Cancer Day: Here’s how perceptions about the disease differ around the world

Italy’s rescue operation Mare Nostrum shuts down with no real replacement. EU’s Triton instead might put lives at risk

Europe bows to Turkey’s rulers, sends Syrian refugees back to chaos

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Mobile World Congress 2021: Barcelona 08 June-01 July

Darfur peace process at a ‘standstill’ as demonstrations against Sudanese Government continue

Achieving targets on energy helps meet other Global Goals, UN forum told

When Can Everyone Pluck the Grapes?

These vending machines are giving out free short stories to London commuters

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

There’s a single-use plastic you’ll throw away today without realising

Malaria could be gone by the middle of the century. Here’s how

Impact of high-fats food regimen on immune activity, tumor growth.

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: