Macron supports U.S.-Iran dialogue, floats himself as 'honest broker'

·2-min read
French President Emmanuel Macron meets his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu at the Elysee Palace in Paris

WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday welcomed the renewed U.S. willingness to engage with Iran, offered himself as an honest broker and said Saudi Arabia and Israel must ultimately be involved somehow.

"We do need to finalise, indeed, a new negotiation with Iran," Macron told the Washington-based Atlantic Council think tank in a video conference from Paris. "I will do whatever I can to support any initiative from the U.S. side to reengage a ... dialogue and I will be here ... I was here, and available two years ago and one and a half (years) ago, to try to be an honest broker and a committed broker in this dialogue."

In 2018, former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal, which was designed to limit Iran's atomic program in return for the easing of U.S. and other sanctions. His successor, President Joe Biden, has said that if Iran returns to "strict" compliance with the accord, the United States will too.

Trump restored the U.S. sanctions that the deal removed and placed more on Iran.

Macron said it was time for a new negotiation because Iran was closer to a nuclear weapon, there was a need to deal with its ballistic missile program and to promote regional stability.

In 2019 he pushed to bring Washington and Tehran back to the negotiating table and to set parameters for wider future talks.

The broad idea then was to ensure Iran - which denies it seeks an atomic bomb - could never acquire one, to end Yemen's civil war, to develop a plan for regional security and to ease economic sanctions on Tehran.

European and Western diplomats have said Britain, France and Germany have proposed sequencing for Iran to return to compliance in return for economic benefits. It is unclear if Washington would lift sanctions without Iran first complying.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed in Washington and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)