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 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

Refugee crisis update: EU fails to relocate immigrants from Greece and Italy

A 550 km-long mass of rotting seaweed is heading for Mexico’s pristine beaches

MEPs Anti-fraud votes for more votes?

EU ready to relinquish its internal tax havens

FROM THE FIELD: West Africa’s wishful gold diggers

UN experts report: Business ‘dragging its feet’ on human rights worldwide

Without tackling ‘gross inequalities’ major issues will go unsolved, warns UN rights chief Bachelet

Refugees now make up 1% of the world’s population

Technology can help solve the climate crisis – but it will need our help

How can we make entrepreneurship serve the greater good?

Right2Water initiative: Is the Commission ready to listen to citizens?

How farms are getting closer to consumers in the pandemic

What makes a great CEO? The people they surround themselves with

‘Virginity testing’: a human rights violation, with no scientific basis – UN

Monsoon rains turn millions of children’s lives ‘upside down’ across South Asia

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

Young people are key to defusing unrest and restoring public trust

Review on ethics and technological development

Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

JADE Spring Meeting 2015: a step forward for Youth Entrepreneurship

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

Governments and non-state actors need to take urgent action to meet Paris Agreement goals

Schengen: new rules for temporary checks at national borders

Anti-Semitism ‘toxic to democracy’, UN expert warns, calling for better education

European Business Summit 2014: Sting Report, Day I

What makes us happy? AI scanned 700,000 journal entries to find out

Why Italy will not follow the Greek road; Eurozone to change or unravel

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

These are the world’s safest cities

More than 3,400 classrooms damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, says UN Children’s Fund

Day of the Seafarer: Commissioner Vălean supports the rights of seafarers and their vital role

Eurozone: Economic sentiment-business climate to collapse without support from exports

Failing to agree climate action would ‘not only be immoral’ but ‘suicidal’, UN chief tells COP24

My disability, my identity

European Business Summit 2013: Where Business and Politics shape the future

Three ways the Fourth Industrial Revolution is shaping geopolitics

Can the EU really make Google and Facebook pay publishers and media?

COVID-19: MEPs debate how to best protect cross-border and seasonal workers

The European Union’s Balkan Double Standard

4 things President Trump could learn from Jimmy Carter

Mental Health in the COVID-19 era

Israeli security forces’ response to Gaza protests ‘a recipe for more bloodshed’, says UN expert

7 ways the ‘biological century’ will transform healthcare

How quantum computing could beat climate change

Africa’s Sahel: Act now before the crisis ‘becomes unmanageable’, urges Grandi

Traditional knowledge at ‘core’ of indigenous heritage, and ‘must be protected’, says UN Forum

How the technology behind deepfakes can benefit all of society

This Indian school accepts plastic waste instead of fees

Using ‘leprosy’ metaphors in political rhetoric ‘fuels public stigma’ and discrimination: UN rights expert

The digital building blocks of better communities

Miguel Arias Cañete European Commission

EU should invest more in climate and not sit back on its laurels and watch

Libya ‘in race against time’, but dissolving conflict ‘a realistic prospect’, Security Council hears

India is building a high-tech sustainable city from scratch

Monsanto lawsuit ruling a ‘significant recognition’ of victims’ human rights, say UN rights experts

UN condemns ‘cowardly’ attack on Libya’s national oil corporation headquarters

Russia and the EU ‘trade’ natural gas supplies and commercial concessions in and out of Ukraine

Promoting ‘a healthy sustainable future’, the UN health agency engages young and young at heart to ‘Walk the Talk’

Forget GDP – for the 21st century we need a modern growth measure

UN honours fallen colleagues and friends who ‘risk all to promote peace’

Hostages to a rampant banking system

More Stings?

Advertising

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