Iran Trump card a G7 triumph for MacronEditorial | Mary Ma 28 Aug 2019
It had been simply inconceivable for US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to ever meet given the gulf of differences between them.
So, when news broke at the G7 summit in the French seaside town of Biarritz that the two may be able to meet in the near future, it was greeted with astonishment everywhere - like when Trump showed up at the Korean border to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on the northern side.
Trump was apparently delighted at the prospect now made possible by French President Emmanuel Macron. This would be another major photo opportunity for someone who is bent on winning re-election to remain in the White House next year.
Macron has helped to open the door. But will Trump and Rouhani eventually step inside for a face-to-face meeting to end a regional crisis?
When Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif unexpectedly appeared in Biarritz, it was a surprise. As everyone speculated whether a breakthrough in the Iran-US standoff was in the cards, a question arose: would a Trump-Rouhani summit be conditional or unconditional?
Teheran now says it's conditional on Washington taking the first step to lift sanctions on the Persian nation if the two leaders are going to chat. There's a sense of uncertainty.
If Trump is still of the same temperament as when he met "Fatty Kim III" in Hanoi in February, he would probably again storm out of the house if Rouhani - like Kim - demands that economic sanctions be lifted forthwith.
But if Iran is no longer the country it was 2 years ago, as recalled by Trump, the US leader may also no longer be the "mentally deranged dotard" he was in Hanoi. He knows his country is the only one still imposing sanctions on Iran, while allies have been busy finding ways to circumvent them in order to continue buying oil from Iran and doing business with it.
It would be in Trump's interest to know when to dance a step forward rather than continuing to take two steps back.
Washington's maximum pressure campaign against Iran is making life difficult in Iran, and Teheran has every motivation to resume a dialogue if it can do so gracefully. If Trump is clever enough to realize it takes two to tango, tensions in the Persian Gulf would be lowered immediately, removing a factor threatening world safety.
Let's keep our fingers crossed on this.
Although the G7 gathering ended without a joint communique, as has often occurred in the past, Macron as the host at least displayed high-level diplomacy in managing to get the arch-enemies to come close enough for a possible summit.
Political clubs such as the G7 or G20 may be glamorous, but have lost much of their significance in recent years, with their communiques often meaning little more than a piece of paper.
The Biarritz summit won't be remembered for its commitment to help Brazil battle the catastrophic Amazon forest fire, or for concerns expressed over Hong Kong's social and political unrest. However, Macron's diplomatic maneuver to defuse the Persian Gulf crisis will give a new meaning to the club.