European, US diplomats meet in Paris for Iran talks

US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, is meeting with top French, German and British diplomats.
Thursday 27/06/2019
France's President Emmanuel Macron (centre L) and his wife Brigitte Macron (centre R) visit a temple in Kyoto on June 27, 2019. (AFP)
France's President Emmanuel Macron (centre L) and his wife Brigitte Macron (centre R) visit a temple in Kyoto on June 27, 2019. (AFP)

The US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, is meeting with top French, German and British diplomats in Paris for talks on the Gulf crisis at a time when European powers are trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal struck with Tehran.

European countries want to avoid a further escalation in tensions between the US and Iran and are trying to persuade Iran not to leave the nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year.

During a visit to Japan, French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters Thursday he hopes to convince US President Donald Trump to open talks with Iran and avoid a war that would engulf the Middle East.

Macron said he is trying to play the role of mediator to ease the tensions between the US and Iran.

"There is no brief war," Macron warned. "We know when it's starting, but not when it's finishing."

The French President is to meet Trump during a summit of the Group of 20 starting Friday in Japan.

Iran has said it will exceed the nuclear deal's limit on its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium by Thursday, following the re-imposition of US sanctions.

On Wednesday, Iran's UN ambassador urged Britain, France and Germany to take "timely" practical steps to preserve the agreement, "which is now in critical condition."

The three are finalizing efforts to put in operation a complicated barter-type system known as INSTEX to keep up trade with Iran and avoid US sanctions, as part of efforts to keep the nuclear deal alive.

The countries, and three other European Union nations, on Wednesday strongly urged Iran to abide by the agreement and "refrain from escalatory steps."

(AP)