Emmanuel Macron turns to Iran to propose widening nuclear deal as Trump wavers

Emmanuel Macron turns to Iran to propose widening nuclear deal as Trump waversEmmanuel Macron and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Sunday night agreed to work together to preserver the Iran nuclear deal, in a marked signal to the US.  Less than a week after the French president implored the White House to stick with the agreement during a state visit to the Washington, Mr Macron suggested that the deal could be widened. In what appears to be the latest attempt to prevent Donald Trump scrapping the agreement, the Elysee Palace said Mr Macron proposed in an hour-long phone call with Tehran that discussions should close loop holes in the deal, which have angered the US president. The Elysee said that Mr Macron raised "three additional, indispensable subjects" not covered by the current deal with Mr Rouhani, citing Tehran's ballistic missile programmes, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 and Iran's destabilising influence in the Middle East. It comes after the UK, France and Germany jointly reaffirmed their commitment on Sunday to sticking with the deal, but said that there were "important elements that the deal does not cover, but which we need to address". Mr Pompeo warned over the Iran deal during a visit to Saudi Arabia on a tour of the Middle East Credit: Amr Nabil/AP Mr Macron's intervention came after Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, called Iran "the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world," on Sunday in a further signal that America intends to pull out of the nuclear deal. Speaking at a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during his first visit to the Middle East since being sworn in last week, Mr Pompeo struck a hawkish tone as Donald Trump’s deadline for a decision on the deal looms on May 12th. However, he offered hope of some compromise to the UK, France and Germany. “We will continue to work with our European allies to fix that deal. But if a deal cannot be reached, the president has said that he will leave that deal," Mr  Pompeo said. But he added: "Unlike the prior administration, we will not neglect the vast scope of Iran’s terrorism. It is indeed the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world. In fact, Iran has only behaved worse since the deal was approved. Iran detabilises this entire region." Downing Street on Sunday announced Theresa May has had separate discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend in which they solidified their stance in support of the deal. FAQ | Iran nuclear talks In a nod to Mr Trump and in the wake of visits to the US last week from Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel, the three leaders acknowledged there were key issues that needed to be addressed inlcuding the question of Iran's ballistic missile programme and what happens when the deal expires. A Downing Street spokesman said: "They discussed the importance of the Iran nuclear deal as the best way of neutralising the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, agreeing that our priority as an international community remained preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. "They agreed that there were important elements that the deal does not cover, but which we need to address.” "Acknowledging the importance of retaining the deal, they committed to continue working closely together and with the US on how to tackle the range of challenges that Iran poses.” Number 10 said the three European leaders had also spoken about the “vital importance” of their steel and aluminum industries and their concern about the impact of US tariffs. Iran nuclear talks They pledged to work together to obtain a permanent exemption from the tariffs. There is less than two weeks to go before the May 12 deadline for Mr Trump to decide on the Iran deal. Iran has threatened to restart nuclear activity should Mr Trump scupper the agreement, with President Hassan Rouhani calling Mr Trump a "tradesman" who lacks the qualifications to deal with a complex international pact. On Sunday Mr Rouhani told Mr Macron in a telephone conversation that the Iran nuclear deal was "not negotiable". Speaking on Fox News on Sunday John Bolton, the US administration's new national security adviser, said Mr Trump had yet to make a decision Mr Bolton said: "He has made no decision on the nuclear deal whether to stay in or get out.There is no decision on that yet." A wider question remains regarding North Korea's response to reimposing sanctions on Iran just as negotiations are underway for an historic meeting between Kim Jong-un and the US leader. But Mr Pompeo said yesterday: “I don't think Kim Jong-un is staring at the Iran deal and saying, ‘Oh goodness, if they get out of that deal, I won't talk to the Americans anymore,’"   “There are higher priorities, things that he is more concerned about than whether or not the Americans stay in the [agreement].”



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