“On Iran, France expresses itself in full sovereignty,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement. “France is strongly committed to peace and security in the region, is committed to de-escalating tensions and does not need any authorisation to do so.” Mr Le Drian continued: “The aggravation of tensions requires political initiatives to restore the conditions for dialogue. “That’s what President Macron is doing, in all transparency, with our partners, and namely with the European signatories to the nuclear pact.”
The French leader is “of course keeping the US authorities informed,” he said, adding “every effort must be made to prevent the conflict situation from morphing into a dangerous confrontation”.
Mr Trump on Thursday warned no one had the right to speak to Iran on behalf of the United States, after an Al-Monitor report earlier in the week said Mr Macron had invited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to this month’s G7 summit to meet the US leader.
“Iran is in serious financial trouble. They want desperately to talk to the US, but are given mixed signals from all of those purporting to represent us, including President Macron of France,” he complained in a Twitter post.
“I know Emmanuel means well, as do all others, but nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself. No one is authorised in any way, shape, or form, to represent us!”
A French diplomat has since denied the report, saying no such invitation had been made.
Britain, France and Germany have clashed with the Trump administration over Iran since last year, when Mr Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
But fears of a Middle East conflict have risen since the US’s exit and controversial decision to re-impose sanctions on Tehran designed to halt its oil exports.
While European leaders say they share US concerns about Iran’s regional behaviour and missiles programme, they believe pulling out of the agreement was a mistake and have repeatedly warned that the stand-off could lead to an accidental war.
The diplomatic squabble is the latest in a series tense exchanges between Washington and Paris ahead of the G7 meeting in the southwestern town of Biarritz.
Several weeks ago, Mr Trump decried the “foolishness” of Mr Macron for pushing ahead with a tax on US tech giants and threatened to tax French wines in retaliation.
French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume slammed Mr Trump’s tariff threats as “completely moronic”.
Iran will be a hot-button topic at the August 24-26 summit. European leaders still hope to save the nuclear pact, although Tehran has already begun scaling down its cooperation with it in response to US sanctions it says are a form of “economic terrorism”.
Britain was dragged into the confrontation last month when it seized an Iranian oil tanker accused of violating sanctions on Syria. Iran responded by seizing a British tanker.
London has since pledged to join a US-led mission to boost security in the Gulf. But Paris and Berlin have so far held back.
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