News Analysis: With consent from Iran, U.S., France's mediation helps ease tensions

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-28 03:53:45|Editor: yan
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TEHRAN, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The recent mediation efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron to seek talks between Iran and the U.S. seemed to have the consent from both sides, offering some hope for easing the tensions in the Gulf.

Macron's mediation is a "dim light" of hope favored by both Tehran and Washington, Sadeq Zibakalam, professor of political science of Tehran University, told Xinhua in an interview.

Over the past weeks, Macron has been in constant contacts with Tehran and Washington to offer proposals for a diplomatic solution of the Iran-U.S. conflict.

The French leader announced Monday at the closing of annual G7 summit in the French seaside town of Biarritz that he was attempting to broker a meeting between the U.S. and Iran in the coming weeks.

Macron's efforts helped ease the rising tensions between Iran and the U.S. as Washington tightened sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who made a surprise visit to the summit venue on Sunday, has also expressed Iran's resolve to settle problems with the U.S. through diplomatic means.

"Iran's active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues," Zarif said following the meetings with Macron and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, on the sidelines of the G7 meeting.

But Zibakalam said "both Tehran and Washington are aware that if France's mediation is supposed to bear fruits, the main precondition is some changes in (each other's) stances."

Upon his arrival in Biarritz on Aug. 25, U.S. President Donald Trump, after lengthy talks with his French counterpart, displayed a "very positive" attitude towards Iran by suggesting that Washington did not want a fight with the Islamic republic.

On Monday, Trump also said the U.S. did not seek regime change in Iran and he was open to meeting his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani under right circumstances.

"I want this meeting to happen, and I want an agreement between the U.S. and Iran ... We can have it done in a very short period of time," Trump said at the G7 closing press conference with Macron.

Trump is a businessman, and Iran, with its 80 million population, "is an untapped market with its huge energy resources for the U.S. companies," Zibakalam noted.

Beside the economic opportunities, an agreement with Iran, which would reduce tensions and alleviate the risk of war in the Middle East, would present Trump as a "national hero," he said.

"It would widen his margin of success in the upcoming U.S. presidential election," Zibakalam added, referring to the 2020 U.S. presidential race in which Trump will seek reelection.

On Tuesday, Rouhani set preconditions for possible U.S. talks, saying that as the "first step" towards dialogue, Washington should lift all its "cruel" and "unlawful" sanctions against Iran and respect the Iranian nation's rights.

"Any change in our behavior will start with their (U.S.) repentance. I have said and again: they should re-embrace their obligations (under the 2015 nuclear deal) and change their path of mistakes," Rouhani said.

The Iranian leader said that if he knew that meeting with someone is needed to help solve the problems of the country, he would do it, because "what is important is our national interest."

Zibakalam said that the softening of tough talk by Iranian leaders could be attributed to the fact that Iran's macroeconomy is not at a favorable state as it relies heavily on crude exports now banned by the U.S.

Iranian government's income, mainly from crude exports, has declined sharply after the U.S. imposed a total ban on its oil exports in May.

Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal last year and re-imposed sanctions once waived under the accord. In response, Iran recently dropped parts of its obligations under the deal and has threatened to do more if the tensions continue.