U.S. President Donald Trump has said it was “too soon ” to meet Iran’s foreign minister, who made a surprise weekend visit to a summit of Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized nations in France.

He reiterated that Washington is not looking for regime change in Tehran.

“I’m looking at a really good Iran, really strong, we’re not looking for regime change. You’ve seen how that works over the last 20 years, that hasn’t been too good,” Trump said on August 26 as he and leaders of Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, and Canada were wrapping up talks in the southwestern French coastal resort of Biarritz.

“Iran really has a chance to really build themselves up and be a really great nation,” Trump said, adding: “They have to stop terrorism.”

The three-day summit in Biarritz saw a dramatic shift of focus on August 25, when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a brief and unannounced visit to discuss the diplomatic deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Trump told reporters he knew Zarif was going to drop in and said he didn’t want to see the Iranian minister.

“I think it’s too soon to meet,” he said.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have ramped up since Washington last year withdrew from the 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Five other signatories, including France, Britain, and Germany, remain committed to the accord under which Tehran agreed to rein in its nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions.

Iran, however, has begun reducing some of its commitments under the agreement.

Several recent incidents in the Persian Gulf have exacerbated tensions further.

Trump on August 26 said there had been “great unity” among G7 leaders over Iran, with a common goal of ensuring the country does not acquire nuclear weapons.

Speaking alongside the U.S. president, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks on how to achieve this were “slowly moving.”

On August 25, Zarif tweeted that he held “constructive” talks with his French counterpart and Macron in Biarritz.

“Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying,” he wrote, adding that he gave a joint briefing to German and British officials.

The French presidency described the talks as “positive” and said the discussions would continue.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani defended his foreign minister’s visit to the G7 summit, saying he himself is ready to go anywhere to negotiate a way out of the crisis.

“If I knew that going to a meeting and visiting a person would help my country’s development and resolve the problems of the people, I would not miss it,” Rohani said in a televised speech on August 26.

“We have to negotiate, we have to find a solution, and we have to solve the problem,” Rohani said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on August 25 that every opportunity should be seized to resolve tensions between Washington and Tehran.

“We have to find a way to de-escalate. If not, we have to fear that Iran reneges even further on its [nuclear deal] commitments in September,” Merkel said.

Macron also met with Zarif in Paris ahead of the G7 gathering.

In an effort to prop up the nuclear agreement, he offered last week to either soften sanctions on Iran or provide a compensation mechanism “to enable the Iranian people to live better” in return for full compliance with the pact.

In announcing the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal, Trump said the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and did not address Iran’s missile program or Tehran’s support for militants in the region.

Iran has denied it supports insurgent activity and said its nuclear program was strictly for civilian energy purposes.

Source » rferl