Lapid speaks with Macron, calls for pressure on Iran as Vienna nuclear talks continue

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday about the nuclear talks underway in Vienna between world powers and Iran.

Six weeks after their meeting in Paris, Lapid and Macron “had a long conversation”, according to the Israeli foreign ministry. The discussion focused on “the nuclear talks and Israel’s demand to put pressure on Iran,” Lapid said.

His office said the two also discussed bilateral relations and that Macron “reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security and stressed the importance he places on the warm relations between Israel and France.”

The French presidency did not immediately propose its own reading of the appeal.

The latest round of Iran talks resumed last week in Vienna just after the New Year, after a three-week break for vacation after talks resumed in November.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday he remained optimistic about the possibility of an agreement between Iran and world powers on its nuclear program.

“I remain convinced that we can reach an agreement. Progress has been made in recent days, ”Le Drian told BFM TV and RMC Radio, according to Reuters. “We have taken a positive direction over the past few days, but time is running out because if we don’t come to an agreement quickly, there will be nothing to negotiate.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on September 13, 2021 (Karim Jafaar / AFP)

In their call on Saturday, Lapid also congratulated Macron on France’s accession to the presidency of the Council of the European Union, and “underlined the importance of strengthening relations between Israel and the EU,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At the end of November, Lapid traveled to Paris and met Macron at the end of a three-day trip to Europe seen largely as focused on the Iran talks.

At the time, Lapid stressed to Macron that the sanctions should not be lifted by Iran and that only a credible military threat would stop Tehran’s nuclear program.

Lapid also stressed to Macron in November Israel’s belief that Iran is only buying time in talks in order to continue to progress on its nuclear program and obtain relief from crippling economic sanctions. Israel’s top diplomat also stressed the need to develop an effective Plan B if the talks fail.

Iran said Monday it detected a new “realism” on the part of Western countries participating in the talks.

“We feel a setback, or rather a realism of the western parties in the Vienna negotiations, that there can be no demand beyond the nuclear deal,” Iranian ministry spokesman told reporters. of Foreign Affairs, Saeed Khatibzadeh.

However, “it is too early to judge whether the United States and the three European countries [France, Germany and the UK] have drawn up a real agenda to commit to lifting the sanctions, ”he said.

Lazar Berman and AFP contributed to this report.

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