French president’s top advisor visits Iran to help ‘de-escalate tensions’

Press TV – French President Emmanuel Macron’s top diplomatic advisor has traveled to Iran to hold talks with the country’s officials with the aim of contributing to easing tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

According to a French presidency official, Emmanuel Bonne “did indeed travel to Iran on June 19 … to hold high-level talks with the objective of contributing to a de-escalation of tensions in the region.”

The diplomat is a Middle East expert, and has been based in Iran in the past, serving as an advisor to the French embassy in Tehran from 2003 to 2006.

His visit comes as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced earlier in the day that Paris will increase its efforts to reduce tensions brought about as a result of the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“We want to unify our efforts so that there is a de-escalation process that starts,” Le Drian told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Paris.

“There is still time and we hope all the actors show more calm. There is still time, but only a little time,” he said.

Le Drian said that Iran’s announcement on Monday to exceed its uranium stockpile limit in the next 10 days was very worrying and not in Tehran’s interest, but he pointed the finger of blame at the United States.

“We… consider the US’ decision to break with the accord is not good and that its maximum pressure campaign is contributing to tensions,” Le Drian told reporters.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who attended the French cabinet meeting, also echoed those comments adding that “the risk of war in the [Persian] Gulf has not been averted.”

“We need to do everything so that it doesn’t come to this. That’s why we are talking to all sides. I was in Iran and we are also talking with the Americans. We need to de-escalate through dialogue. It is a time of ‘diplomacy first’ and that’s what we are committed to.”

Diplomats told Reuters on Tuesday that Britain, France and Germany, the three European signatories to the JCPOA, plan a new push to keep Iran in the nuclear deal, but warned about a possible stalemate in the diplomatic road that started 15 years ago and culminated in the conclusion of the JCPOA.

The three countries have voiced their support for the JCPOA and promised to keep the accord alive since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it last year and began re-imposing American sanctions.

Iran has, however, been critical of the Europeans, saying they have failed to fully implement the agreement and keep trade with Tehran to help the country benefit from the JCPOA.

On May 8, the first anniversary of Washington’s exit from the deal, Iran announced its decision to stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water for a 60-day period, during which the remaining sides would have to ensure that Iran is no more deprived of the economic benefits it was promised under the agreement.

Earlier this week, Iran announced that it will surpass the uranium stockpile limit set under the nuclear deal from June 27, adding, however, that there is still time for European countries to save the JCPOA.