Iran’s foreign minister paid a visit to a G7 summit in France on Sunday as a guest to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, a move that blindsided White House officials and some U.S. lawmakers condemned.
“This is completely disrespectful to @realDonaldTrump and the other leaders at the G7,” former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeted. “Iran supports terrorism at every turn and continues to pursue “Death to America”. Manipulative of Macron to do this and very insincere. #NotWhatFriendsDo”
Sen. John Cornyn questioned why Macron would invite Mohammed Javad Zarif.
“Iran is the #1 state sponsor of terrorism. Why would Macron suck up to stone-cold killers?” Cornyn tweeted.
A spokesman for Zarif said Zarif had arrived in Biarritz, France, at the invitation of Macron “to continue talks” between the Iranian and French governments.
“No one was expecting it,” one U.S. official said of Zarif’s arrival. “It was a surprise.”
Macron has been urging Trump and the Iranians toward a dialogue since Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal last year.
Jennifer Jacobs, a senior White House reporter for Bloomberg, said a person familiar with the situation told her Trump does not agree Macron can convey a message from the G7 to Iran since “G7 leaders didn’t all settle on what the message should be.”
A French official defended the move, saying everyone was told as soon as possible.
“It was all organized at very short notice,” an Elysee official told Reuters. “It all happened within a small window. Other countries were informed as soon as possible. It all happened in a matter of hours.”
Asked why other countries weren’t told earlier of the surprise visit, the Elysee official said: “They were informed early enough,” adding that the diplomatic situation was too sensitive.
Iran’s foreign minister flew in for side talks at the G7 summit on Sunday as host France ramped up efforts to ease tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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