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.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

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

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

The Syrian knot cannot be cut without devastating consequences

Road safety: Data show improvements in 2018 but further concrete and swift actions are needed

EU migrant crisis: Germany, France and UK to show the way. Will the rest of the EU follow?

Humanitarian Aid: additional €50 million to tackle drought in the Horn of Africa

Inspiring young doctors: the beginning of the change

This team of Saudi women designed an award-winning app to make the Hajj safer

EU, Brazil to hold high level Summit in Brasilia

Syria: Urgent, concrete actions needed, to protect children too young to ‘make sense of this senseless war’

Fighting cybercrime – what happens to the law when the law cannot be enforced?

Despite violence, ‘tremendous hunger’ for peace in Afghanistan: top UN official

On flight to sustainable development, ‘leave no country behind’, urges aviation agency

The new Kiev rulers ask $35 billion from the West

Climate change is destroying a barrier that protects the US from hurricanes

“Will TTIP solve the massive EU-US unemployment? Absolutely not!” A revealing Sting Exclusive with Tim Bennett from the Transatlantic Business Council

EU to manage external borders against the will of member states; Greece to be the first target

These EU countries have the most government debt

No tears for Cyprus in Brussels and Moscow

What changes in the EU as from today

‘No shortcuts to a healthier world’: WHO chief sets out health priorities for the decade

Companies that put employees first perform better

Why do medical students have to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

How technology can help us achieve universal healthcare

UN mission welcomes Afghan government’s announcement of Eid holiday ceasefire

Drowning in the Mediterranean this summer? Many happy returns

Millennials aren’t voting – but these young leaders have a plan to change that

Here are 4 ways investors can influence more secure and responsible innovation

These companies can recycle nearly anything, from cigarette butts to fax machines

Dieselgate: Parliament calls for mandatory retrofits of polluting cars

German heavy artillery against Brussels and Paris

A voice from Syria: the positive prospect of clinical research despite the excruciating circumstances

How Costa Rica’s environment minister talks to his daughter about climate change

Commission reports on progress in risk reduction in the Banking Union and calls for faster progress on Capital Markets Union ahead of EU Leaders’ meetings

Commission’s Youth Initiative fails first hurdle by not sufficiently consulting young people

5 surprising ways major cities are going green

Alarming number of women mistreated during childbirth, new UN health agency figures show

How fixing broken food systems can help us meet all the SDGs

‘Bicycle Kingdom’ makes a comeback, as China seeks solutions to tackle air pollution crisis

Draghi’s top new year resolution: Quantitative Easing

A neo-liberal toll free Paradise for the super rich and tax hell for wage earners

Who is to profit from the quasi announced ECB rate cut?

New energy security framework will help meet growing needs in East Africa, sustainably – UN economic wing

How the powerful science of behaviour change can make us healthier

Will the European Court of Justice change data privacy laws to tackle terrorism?

Business should be joyful – just ask the sports world

3 things the G20 can do to save the World Trade Organization

Ukraine-EU deal sees the light but there’s no defeat for Russia

Two-thirds of employees would trust a robot boss more than a real one

Germany and France only care about keeping their borrowing cheap

UN spotlights digitization of audiovisual archives to preserve human history on World Day

What makes Copenhagen the world’s most bike-friendly city?

The impossible end of the war in Syria

Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) of 22/05/2018: EU relations with key trading partners

Cape Town’s crisis shows us the real cost of water

Can a Bavarian Oktoberfest beer indulger bring down the Berlin government?

Sudan: Amidst deaths, injuries, imprisonments, UNICEF stresses children’s protection ‘at all times’

Security Council urged to act with ‘one strong voice’ on raft of ills plaguing Middle East and North Africa

We must help developing countries escape commodity dependence

EU mobilises €21 million to support Palestine refugees via the UN Relief and Works Agency

Zuckerberg preaches that Artificial Intelligence will protect Data Privacy in Facebook whereas Verhofstadt demands the big European state to take charge

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