Posts Tagged ‘French President Emmanuel Macron’

Israel said to warn Lebanon, France that it will strike Hezbollah rocket factories

November 2, 2018

Jerusalem giving Lebanon a chance to take own steps against alleged sites where Iran is converted projectiles into guided missiles, according to Israeli report

Lebanese security forces guard the entrance of Al-Ahed stadium in Beirut's southern suburbs during a tour organized by the Lebanese foreign minister for ambassadors on October 1, 2018 of alleged missile sites around the Lebanese capital in a bid to disprove Israeli accusations that the Hezbollah movement has secret missile facilities there. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)

Lebanese security forces guard the entrance of Al-Ahed stadium in Beirut’s southern suburbs during a tour organized by the Lebanese foreign minister for ambassadors on October 1, 2018 of alleged missile sites around the Lebanese capital in a bid to disprove Israeli accusations that the Hezbollah movement has secret missile facilities there. (AFP PHOTO / ANWAR AMRO)

Israel has reportedly sent a message to the Lebanese government via Paris demanding that it act against the Hezbollah terror group’s rocket factories in the country, saying if Lebanon refused to do so, Israel could take military action.

The message was delivered by Israel’s deputy national security adviser Eitan Ben-David to Orléan la-Chevalier, a top adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, during the latter’s visit in Jerusalem on Monday, according to Israel’s Channel 10 news.

“The Lebanese government must be careful when it comes to Hezbollah’s rocket factories. If the issue isn’t dealt with through diplomatic means by the Lebanese government, Israel will act on its own,” the message read, according to the report, which cited unnamed “Western diplomatic sources.”

Ben-David asked that la-Chevalier deliver the message to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Image result for Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, photos

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

France has close longstanding ties with Lebanon, and is considered close to Hariri.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment Thursday on the report.

Ben-David said Israel would be patient, and was willing to wait to see if Lebanon took steps against the factories, but said it would not allow their construction to continue undisturbed.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivers a broadcast speech through a giant screen, during a rally marking the 12th anniversary of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Largely funded by Iran, Hezbollah remains popular in Lebanon, where it has transformed into a potent political force allied with President Michel Aoun. Many politicians have balked at calls to force Hezbollah to disarm.

Aoun recently denied a claim by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran was upgrading Hezbollah missiles at secret facilities inside Beirut, taking journalists and diplomats on tours of some of the alleged sites several days later.

Netanyahu had revealed the sites during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in a bid to spur international action.  He claimed the technology would allow the missiles to hit within 10 meters (32 feet) of its target.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 27, 2018, and holds up a placard detailing alleged Hezbollah missile sites in Beirut. (AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

Last month, Fox News reported that Iran had delivered advanced GPS components to Hezbollah which will allow the terrorist group to make previously unguided rockets into precision guided-missiles.

Israel has warned repeatedly about the threat of Hezbollah precision-guided missiles, and has carried out numerous airstrikes inside Syria to keep advanced weapons from being transferred to the terror group.

Reports that Iran was constructing underground missile conversion factories in Lebanon first emerged in March 2017.

Lebanon “is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will cannot accept this threat,” Netanyahu said in January.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in July 2006 that saw thousands of missiles rain on northern Israel.

Since then, the terror group is thought to have expanded its arsenal to over 100,000 rockets, with the ability to strike almost anywhere in the country, though only a small number are thought to have precision guided capabilities.

A photograph of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jet flying over the Lebanese capital of Beirut, which was apparently leaked to Israel’s Hadashot news. (Screen capture)

The Israeli Air Force has largely abstained from conducting raids inside Lebanon itself, though it has indicated that it was prepared to do so.

Earlier this year, air force chief Amiram Norkin showed visiting generals a picture of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying near Beirut, in what was seen as a direct message to Hezbollah.

In May, Netanyahu said Israel was “operating against the transfer of deadly weapons from Syria to Lebanon or their manufacture in Lebanon.”


Italy’s far-right Salvini eclipses government after 100 days

September 7, 2018

Italy’s far-right anti-immigration Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has managed to dominate almost the entire first 100 days of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government, which are marked on Saturday.

When Salvini’s League formed a government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) on June 1, it was the first time a purely populist administration held power in a founding member of the European Union.

After March elections, Salvini’s party seemed destined to play second fiddle in the coalition, with just 17 percent of votes compared with M5S’s 32 percent.

© AFP | Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has marked the first 100 days of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government

Instead, Salvini managed to be treated as an equal in deciding on the government’s programme and makeup, and since then has endlessly repeated his anti-immigrant mantra in the press and, especially, on social media.

“These first 100 days appear to mark more the end of the election campaign than the beginning of a new government,” Sergio Fabbrini, political science lecturer at Rome’s Luiss University, told AFP.

Within days of becoming interior minister, Salvini implemented his campaign promise to close Italian ports to immigrants and asylum seekers, starting with 600 plucked from the Mediterranean by NGO boat Aquarius, which was instead forced to take them to Valencia in Spain.

The crisis was only resolved after a meeting between Conte and his “friend” French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the few times that Conte asserted his independence from Salvini.

Conte, a politically unknown law professor, was chosen for the job by Salvini and fellow Deputy Prime Minister and M5S leader Luigi di Maio.

Conte was deemed a neutral outsider, albeit ideologically closer to M5S.

With some now seeing Salvini as a future premier, Conte is keeping his options open, and might yet return to a prestigious university role.

– Immigration hardline –

Meanwhile, Salvini is gobbling up airtime, column inches and social media clicks with his anti-immigrant diatribes, stirring up Italians’ feelings of insecurity and growing eurosceptism.

He has held more than 60 rallies around the country since June, tweeted a barrage of anti-immigrant messages and posted a flurry of Facebook selfie videos “in the name of Italians”, and his policy is bearing fruit.

More than 60 percent of Italians approve of the new government’s hardline anti-immigration policy and opinion polls now predict 30 percent of votes for the League, overtaking even M5S.

Salvini, 45, has dictated the government agenda, to the detriment of Di Maio, 31.

Di Maio tried to regain the upper hand over the summer, also lashing out at the European Union over another boatload of migrants, aboard the Diciotti.

“The European Union has decided to turn its back on Italy once again,” Di Maio complained at the end of August, threatening to cut Rome’s funding for the bloc.

In the run-up to the 2019 budget, the two men elected on anti-austerity platforms have toned down their attacks and promised to respect the eurozone stability pact by keeping Italy’s public deficit at less than three percent of GDP.

The precise target for next year’s deficit is not yet known, although Salvini and Di Maio have previously said they could break the rules to fulfil campaign promises.

Meanwhile, there has also been some governmental flip-flopping, such as suspending obligatory child vaccinations at the start of August before reversing course just before classes resumed.

Nor have any of their main campaign promises made it into law, including a low-rate “flat tax” of 15-20 percent promised by the League and the “citizen’s income” of 780 euros ($900) a month promised by M5S.

Italy summons French ambassador in migrant boat row — Italy won’t accept “hypocritical lessons” from its EU partners

June 13, 2018

The Italian government has summoned the French ambassador in Rome after France accused Italy of cynicism and irresponsibility for closing its ports to an NGO-run rescue ship with hundreds of migrants on board.

© AFP file photo | Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s new prime minister, says his country won’t accept “hypocritical lessons” from its EU partners.

A statement from the Italian foreign ministry said the ambassador had been summoned Wednesday morning “following the statements given in Paris yesterday about the Aquarius“, as the rescue ship is known.

Some 629 migrants, including 11 children and seven pregnant women, have been afloat in the central Mediterranean aboard the Aquarius since Sunday, when both Italy and Malta refused to let them dock.

The boat has now embarked on a four-day journey to Spain, escorted by two Italian navy vessels, after the Spanish government offered to take in the migrants who were picked up off the Libyan coast over the weekend.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced Rome’s decision to block the Aquarius, saying that under international law Italy should have taken the migrants in.

Macron’s office said France doesn’t want the Italian move to “start a precedent” under which some European countries breach international laws and rely on other EU member states to take in migrants.

“There is a degree of cynicism and irresponsibility in the Italian government’s behaviour with regard to this dramatic humanitarian situation,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux quoted Macron as telling his cabinet.

Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for Macron’s party, went further, telling Public Senat TV: “The Italian position makes me vomit.”


Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte responded angrily.

“I cannot accept hypocritical lessons from countries that have always preferred to turn their backs when it comes to immigration,” Conte said in a statement.

“No one should dare brand Italy or its government as inhumane or xenophobic,” added his transport minister, Danilo Toninelli.

Read more: Mission Aquarius, 10 days rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean

Italy has taken in more than 640,000 mainly African migrants over the past five years. Other EU states have largely ignored pleas by Rome to take in some of the newcomers and share the cost of their care, heightening anti-European and anti-migrant sentiment in Italy.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new interior minister and head of the far-right League, has said his decision not to accept the migrant boat is aimed at forcing other European states to help bear the strain.

Salvini’s League scored its best-ever result in March national elections, partly on pledges to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants and halt the flow of newcomers, and has formed a coalition with the anti-system Five-Star Movement.

The new Italian government has received backing from Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is a friend of Salvini and is known for his fiercely anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“It was so depressing to hear for years that it is impossible to protect maritime borders,” Orban told reporters in Budapest. “Willpower has returned to Italy.”

Safety before politics

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which is operating the Aquarius alongside Franco-German NGO SOS Méditerrannée, urged Rome to drop plans for the lengthy trip to Spain for its migrant passengers.

“This plan would mean already exhausted rescued people would endure four more days travel at sea,” it said on Twitter. “MSF calls for people’s safety to come before politics.”


It will take the Aquarius about 10 days to make the trip to Spain and back, leaving the Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 alone off the coast of Libya  a staging ground for people smugglers  looking out for migrant boats in distress.

Even as Italy dispatched the Aquarius, an Italian coast guard vessel with 937 migrants aboard was heading north from the Libyan coast and was expected to dock in Sicily on Wednesday.



Libyan factions agree to December 10 elections at Paris talks

May 29, 2018

Rival Libyan factions agreed on Tuesday on a declaration that would create a political framework to pave the way for U.N.-backed elections in December to end the country’s seven-year-old conflict.

The oil-producing nation splintered following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, and since 2014 has been divided between competing political and military groups based in Tripoli and the east.

The United Nations is leading an effort to reunify Libya and to organize national elections. France under President Emmanuel Macron has sought to play a bigger role in coaxing the factions to end the turmoil, which has let Islamist militants gain a foothold and migrant smugglers flourish

The Paris meeting, included eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, Tripoli Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, and the leaders of rival parliamentary assemblies, aimed to urge them to agree general principles for ending the conflict and moving toward elections.

© FRANCE 24 screen grab | French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the talks with Libya’s rival factions in Paris.

“Against the backdrop of a Libyan-owned process and the full engagement of all Libyan parties involved, we committed in Paris on May 29, 2018 … to work constructively with the U.N. to realise credible and peaceful elections as soon as possible and to respect the results of these elections when they occur,” an eight-point joint statement by the four stakeholders read.

The declaration was not signed as originally planned. It calls for the immediate unification of the central bank and the phasing out of parallel government and institutions. It makes a commitment to support the creation of a national army and encourage a dialogue on the issue in Cairo.

“The parties have committed to set the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral laws by September 16, 2018 and hold Parliamentary and Presidential elections on December 10, 2018,” the statement said.

It agrees to an inclusive political national conference, but unlike an earlier draft seen by Reuters it no longer sets a timeframe. The final statement no longer directly threatens international sanctions on those who impede the accord or dispute the outcome of elections, saying only that they will be held accountable.

Several countries, including the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Italy, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Libya’s neighbours attended the meeting.

Past attempts at peace deals in Libya have often been scuttled by internal divisions among the country’s armed groups and by the different countries backing the local actors.

Under President Emmanuel Macron, France has tried to play a bigger role in coaxing the factions to end the turmoil, which has let Islamist militants gain a foothold and migrant smugglers flourish.


EU Removes France From “Excessive Deficit Procedure”

May 23, 2018

The EU officially recommended that France be removed from Brussels’ public spending penalty box after more than a decade, handing a win to French President Emmanuel Macron in his push to gain the trust of austerity-pushing Germany.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, formally proposed to take France out of the so-called excessive deficit procedure that was first opened in 2009 at the start of the eurozone debt crisis.

“It is an important moment for France after nine years of a long, painful procedure and sometimes painful but necessary budgetary efforts,” said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici at a news briefing.

© POOL/AFP | The European Commission’s move is a victory for President Emmanuel Macron who had vowed to overhaul France’s economy

The European Commission forecasts that France will hit a deficit of 2.6 percent of GDP in 2017, below the EU’s three percent limit.

This would be followed by 2.3 percent in 2018, then 2.8 percent in 2019, the European Commission estimated in its latest economic forecasts.

Macron saw lowering the deficit as key to earning credibility with European leaders, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as he pushes ambitious reforms to the eurozone.

France was one of the last two countries in the eurozone, along with Spain, still under the threat of the excessive deficit procedure, which can lead to sanctions and fines.

But eyes are now turning to Italy, whose populist and eurosceptic government has promised to flout EU budget rules, which also include a 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) cap on public debt.

The commission’s proposal on France will have to be formally endorsed by EU finance ministers at a meeting in July.


Germany can’t protect businesses from US sanctions in Iran — End of the Iran nuclear deal could yet pull Europe in….

May 13, 2018

Foreign firms that continue doing business in Iran will face US penalties once the sanctions come into force.

With the US threatening to penalize foreign companies doing business in Iran, European firms are worried. Their fears are likely justified, as Germany’s foreign minister has warned there’s no easy way to protect them.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (picture alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen)

It will be difficult to protect German businesses that continue doing business in Iran after the US reimposes sanctions, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Sunday.

“I don’t see any simple solution to shield companies from all the risks of American sanctions,” Maas told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump decided to pull his country out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and announced Washington would also impose sanctions against Iran.

With Germany, France, Britain and the EU vowing to remain committed to the international deal, businesses have been thrust in the middle. Foreign firms that continue doing business in Iran will face US penalties once the sanctions come into force.

“The talks with the Europeans, Iran and the other signatories to the agreement are therefore also about how it can be possible to continue trade with Iran,” Maas said told the paper.

Read moreHow will Iran’s economy hold up if sanctions return?

Europeans hope to negotiate broader deal

The foreign minister said the European partners are working on ways to ensure Iran would continue to abide by the rules of the nuclear deal.

He also reiterated German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron’s stance that a broader deal should be negotiated to address Iran’s “problematic role in the region.”

“After all, Iran is ready to talk. It’s clear that there should also be economic incentives — that will not be easy after the US decision,” Maas said.

US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell vows ‘no trade war’ with EU

Germany, France trying to secure exemptions

European leaders are walking a fine line in trying to save the accord with Iran and to safeguard the investments of their companies.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz spoke with his US counterpart Steve Mnuchin in order to secure an exemption for German firms from the sanctions penalties, according to a report from German newspaper Handelsblatt on Friday.

Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, also said he spoke with Mnuchin about getting an exemption for French firms that are present in Iran, including Renault, Total and Peugeot.

The 2015 deal between major world powers and Iran meant that crippling international sanctions would be lifted in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit its nuclear program.

Iran’s foreign minister is due to meet for talks in Brussels this upcoming Tuesday with his German, French and British counterparts.

rs/aw (dpa, Reuters)

Pakistan army chief among Forbes ‘World’s Most Powerful’ people — See all

May 12, 2018

Chief of the Army  Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has claimed a spot on the Forbes ‘most powerful people in the world’ list.

General Bajwa was ranked 68 among 75 people as per the magazine.

General Bajwa is Pakistan’s 10th army chief and recipient of Nishan-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-i-Imtiaz.

He is one of the 17 newcomers on the list, along with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and French President Emmanuel Macron, among other notable people.

What is more commendable, however, is the fact that he is the only Pakistani to feature on the prestigious list.

“Out of the 75 members, 17 are newcomers. Among them there are presidents, billionaires, heads of organisations, CEOs, and one special counsel.

One commonality: Their words and actions impact a large number of people, businesses, and even entire economies,” said Forbes.

China’s President Xi Jinping came in the first spot on the list, indicating he is the most powerful person.

Other people who have made it to the list are Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd spot), US President Donald Trump (3rd spot) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (4th spot).

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been ranked on number nine on the list.

Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful People  list features men who ‘make the world turn’.

“There are nearly 7.5 billion humans on planet Earth, but these 75 men and women make the world turn.

Forbes’ annual ranking of The World’s Most Powerful People identifies one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean the most,” the magazine said.

It should also be noted that  Pakistan’s then army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam also made it to the Forbes Most Powerful People List in 2012.


The World’s Most Powerful People 2018

I focus on the intersection of games and technology.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

This story appears in the May 31, 2018 issue of Forbes. Subscribe

Xi Jinping, China’s president, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump look on during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

There are nearly 7.5 billion humans on planet Earth, but these 75 men and women make the world turn. Forbes’ annual ranking of The World’s Most Powerful People identifies one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean the most.

This year’s list highlights the consolidation of power in the hands of an elite few. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, seizes the top spot for the first time ever after China’s congress amended its constitution in March, broadening his influence and eliminating term limits. He enjoys a cult of personality not seen since Chairman Mao.

View the full list of The World’s Most Powerful People

Xi’s elevation to the world’s most powerful person unseats Russian President Vladimir Putin (#2), who held the top spot for an unprecedented four consecutive years. Putin has ruled Russia since May of 2000, and this year he was re-elected to a fourth term with nearly 77 percent of the vote. That’s the largest margin of victory for any candidate for the office since the fall of the Soviet Union.

One year into his term, President Donald Trump falls to the No. 3 spot. Trump has seen limited success pushing his agenda through a Congress controlled by his own party, is under investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, and can’t shake off scandals arising from his personal and business life –but he’s still Commander in Chief of the world’s greatest economic and military power.

The fourth most powerful person in the world also happens to be the most powerful woman: Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. The de facto leader of Europe, Merkel won a hard-fought election in 2017 and created a ‘grand coalition’ with political partners. She’ll have to hold tight to the EU rudder as it faces oncoming storms from Brexit and growing anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, poses with French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin prior to a meeting during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday, July 8, 2017. (Tobias Schwarz/Pool Photo)

There are 17 new names on the list this year, including Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud (#8), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. His father remains king, but “MBS” has consolidated power beyond any doubt and taken control of the country. In November 2017, he launched an “anti-corruption campaign” that caused many prominent Saudis to be arrested and forced to turn over their fortunes. The crown prince will be the fulcrum around which the Middle Eastern geopolitics moves for the next generation. Other new members include Jerome H. Powell (#11), chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve; Darren Woods (#34), CEO of Exxon Mobil; Moon Jae-in (#54), President of South Korea; and Robert Mueller (#72), Special Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Read More: New Members of The World’s Most Powerful People

To compile the ranking of The World’s Most Powerful People, we considered hundreds of candidates from various walks of life all around the globe, and measured their power along four dimensions. First, we asked whether the candidate has power over lots of people. Pope Francis, ranked #6, is the spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics. Doug McMillon (#23), is the CEO of the world’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart Stores, with more than 2.3 million workers around the globe.

Next we assessed the financial resources controlled by each person. Are they relatively large compared to their peers? For heads of state we used GDP, while for CEOs, we looked at measures like their company’s assets and revenues. When candidates have a high personal net worth, like the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos (#5), we also took that into consideration. In certain instances we considered other valuable resources at the candidate’s disposal, like access to oil reserves.

Then we determined if the candidate is powerful in multiple spheres. There are only 75 slots on our list –one for approximately every 100 million people on the planet– so being powerful in just one area is often not enough. Our picks project their influence in myriad ways: Elon Musk (#25) has power in the auto business through Tesla Motors, in the aerospace industry through SpaceX, because he’s a billionaire, and because he’s a highly respected tech visionary.

Lastly, we made sure that the candidates actively used their power. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (#36) has near absolute control over the lives of the 25 million people who live in his country, and is known to punish dissent with death.

To calculate the final rankings, a panel of Forbes editors ranked all of our candidates in each of these four dimensions of power, and those individual rankings were averaged into a composite score. This year’s list comes at a time of rapid and profound change, and represents our best guess about who will matter in the year to come.

Any ranking of the world’s most powerful people is going to be subjective, so we don’t pretend ours is definitive. It’s meant to be the beginning of a conversation, not the final word. So tell us what you think: Is the CEO of Google really more powerful than the CEOs of Facebook and Apple? Is the President of Turkey more powerful than the Prime Minister of Canada? Who did we miss? What did we get wrong? Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Additional reporting by Igor Bosilkovski)

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Self-Run Diplomatic Effort To Save The Iran Nuclear Deal — Better watch out for The Mossad

May 5, 2018
Then-Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Manhattan, April 22, 2016.(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

John Kerry is quietly working to preserve his signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal, through a series of meetings with contacts he developed as secretary of state, the Boston Globe reports.

Kerry reportedly met for the second time with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif at the United Nations building in New York two weeks ago to review diplomatic strategies designed to derail President Trump’s plan to exit the Obama-era non-proliferation agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The deal — signed by six countries in 2015 after months of negotiation led by Kerry — committed Iran to halt the development of their nuclear weapons program for a decade in exchange for a reduction in economic sanctions.

Intent on preserving the deal he negotiated, Kerry has reportedly met with a number of other world leaders, including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron, both of whom continue to vocally support the deal.

Kerry’s active involvement in attempting to preserve the deal comes as a surprise to foreign policy experts.

“It is unusual for a former secretary of state to engage in foreign policy like this, as an actual diplomat and quasi-negotiator,” Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution, told the Boston Globe. “Of course, former secretaries of state often remain quite engaged with foreign leaders, as they should, but it’s rarely so issue-specific, especially when they have just left office.”

Macron, who tried to convince to remain in the deal during his state visit last month, said this week that leaving the deal, as Trump has repeatedly vowed to do, could potentially lead to war.

“That would mean opening Pandora’s box, it could mean war,” Macron told the German magazine Der Spiegel. “I don’t believe that Donald Trump wants war.”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to bolster the case made by Iran deal skeptics this week, unveiling a trove of Iranian government nuclear documents recovered by Israeli intelligence services, which he claims prove the regime “lied” about past efforts to seek nuclear weapons and future plans to continue their development.

A friend in Israel told Peace and Freedom: “The Mossad takes of dim view of any pro-Iran, anti-Israel and anti-U.S. activites just now…”

Nuclear Deal No Longer ‘Sustainable’ for Iran, Regardless of What Trump Decides, Deputy FM Says

April 30, 2018

A May 12 domestic deadline looms for Trump to decide whether or not to exit the landmark deal

.Iran's president Hassan Rouhani gives a speech in the city of Tabriz in the northwestern East-Azerbaijan province on April 25, 2018
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani gives a speech in the city of Tabriz in the northwestern East-Azerbaijan province on April 25, 2018ATTA KENARE/AFP

The Iran nuclear deal is no longer sustainable for Iran in its present form – regardless of whether the U.S. exits the deal or not, said Iran’s deputy foreign minister Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Iran's then chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi addresses the media at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria February 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s then chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi addresses the media at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria February 24, 2015\ Heinz-Peter Bader/ REUTERS

“The status quo of the deal is simply not sustainable for us, whether or not the Americans get out of the deal,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said, according to Iranian news agency Isna.

Meanwhile, a May 12 domestic deadline looms for U.S. President Donald Trump to decide whether or not to effectively exit the deal – designed to keep Iran from building up a feared nuclear weapons program. If he chooses to end it, he would reimpose sanctions on Iran.

>> Israel told U.S. and Russia it will strike Iran if attacked from Syria ■ What happens if Trump pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal? ■ Strike likely targeted surface-to-surface missiles Iran seeks to deploy in Syria

The Kremlin said Monday that France and Russia – two of the original signatories – had restated their commitment to the agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russia’s Vladimir Putin spoke by phone and “called for preserving the plan and its full implementation,” according to a statement reported by official Russian news agency TASS.

On a state visit to Washington last week, Macron sought to persuade Trump to stay in the deal.

But he also angered Tehran by repeating his call for a wider deal limiting Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal and involvement in regional conflicts.

Aragchi, the number two on the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, said his country had “for all scenarios, the necessary options ready.”

Araghci and Foreign Minister Mohamed Jawad Zarif have recently stressed that implementing the economic promises of the deal were more important to its future than Trump’s decision on a possible U.S. exit.

Iran is primarily concerned with bank sanctions, warning that, without the proposed economic benefits, there would be no reason to stay in the deal.

Although all economic sanctions were lifted in January 2016, big European banks – fearing U.S. sanctions – have refused to finance Western trade projects with Iran.

Iran signed the nuclear agreement with the U.S., Britain, Russia, China, Germany and France in 2015, agreeing to 10 years of restrictions on their nuclear plan – including a ban on nuclear weapons – in exchange for a relaxing of economic relations.

With the continued difficulties in securing Western investment, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been unable to implement the economic reforms he promised Iranians after the deal, putting him under increasing pressure.

Macron, Rouhani agree to work together to preserve 2015 Iran nuclear deal

April 30, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Sunday and agreed to work together in coming weeks to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the Elysee said in a statement.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, indoor


In a conversation lasting more than an hour, Macron also proposed that the discussions be broadened to cover “three additional, indispensable subjects”, his office said, citing Tehran’s ballistic missile programmes, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 and “the main regional crises” in the Middle East.

The call comes as a deadline looms next month for U.S President Donald Trump to decide on whether to restore U.S. economic sanctions on Tehran – something which could destroy the 2015 agreement which lifted some sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Speaking on a whistle-stop Middle East tour on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would abandon the nuclear deal unless talks with European partners yield improvements.

“We’ve certainly made some (progress with the Europeans),” he said. “There is still work to do. They said: ‘Great, we will support you if you get the fixes’.”