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EghtesadOnline: French President Emmanuel Macron and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi on Tuesday discussed ways of finding solutions to defuse regional tensions and preserve the 2015 nuclear deal as a major diplomatic achievement.

Araqchi, who was in Paris as a special representative of President Hassan Rouhani, stressed the need to draw on the potential of diplomacy to pave the way for peace and security worldwide, ISNA reported. 

He also delivered Rouhani's written message to Macron who is at the forefront of international diplomatic efforts to deescalate tensions fueled by the Tehran-Washington conflict. 

US President Donald Trump pulled out of Iran's nuclear deal last year and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran, forcing the country to take reciprocal action after a year of “strategic patience” by scaling back its commitments under the accord, Financial Tribune reported.

The two countries’ fiery rhetoric, along with a series of incidents in the Persian Gulf, has raised concerns about a war in the region, prompting other countries to step in to prevent further escalation. 

France is leading an initiative to convince the two countries to engage in dialogue over their differences. Along this line, Macron has sent his diplomatic advisor to Iran twice and has had several phone conversations with Rouhani over the past month. 



Diplomatic Channels Open

Araqchi also met French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who reiterated Paris's determination to help reduce the tensions. 

"France stands firm on the preservation and implementation of JCPOA and will continue its efforts toward this end," he said, using the abbreviation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of Iran's nuclear program.

Araqchi provided detailed explanations about the latest developments concerning Iran's nuclear moves. 

"Iran has placed the reduction of JCPOA commitments on its agenda as per its rights [outlined] in the agreement, therefore diplomatic channels are still open," he said. 

As part of efforts to save the deal, the European Union, led by France, Germany and Britain, has introduced a financial mechanism known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to facilitate trade with Iran without the use of US dollar. 

The system took a long time to be established and come on stream, but has not been able to address Iran's concerns yet. 

"Although the establishment of INSTEX was a long process, its activation is an important political step," Le Drian said.

The first transactions are reportedly being conducted at present, but only with Europe so far. 



Oil Sale 

Although the payment channel is set to expand to cover trade with third parties in the future, whether or not it will enable Iranian oil sale has not been decided by its stakeholders yet. 

Oil is the lifeblood of Iran's economy and has been targeted by US sanctions.

"Europe is expected to adopt a clear stance against the US policy of bringing Iran's oil sales to zero, which is being pursued as part of its maximum pressure campaign," Araqchi said, adding that Iran would continue its crude export under any circumstances. 

He also stressed that as a producer and exporter of oil, Persian Gulf security is very important to Iran. 

"Iran will do all in its power for the security of the region, especially the Strait of Hormuz, and will not allow any disruption to shipping in this sensitive region," he said. 

Araqchi’s comments came against a backdrop of controversial incidents near the strategic waterway, including several attacks on oil tankers, Iran's downing of a US drone and Washington's planned, but cancelled, retaliatory airstrike, as well as its claims of bringing down an Iranian drone.


Iran France Abbas Araqchi nuclear deal Emmanuel Macron Macron Regional Tensions Araqchi