August 26, 2019

THE FIRST PRESIDENT EVER TO LOSE TO FRANCE:

How Macron Pulled a Fast One on G-7 Leaders With Gamble on Iran (Ian Wishart, Josh Wingrove and Arne Delfs. 8/26/19, Bloomberg) 

In a break in summit talks on Sunday afternoon, cameras caught British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulating his French host on his handling of a tense dinner the night before.

"Well played," Johnson told Emmanuel Macron, breaking, momentarily, into French. Conversations between U.S. President Donald Trump and other Group of Seven leaders had grown heated around the issues of Iran and particularly Russia.

"You did very well last night," Johnson went on. "My God, that was a difficult one."

Macron's response: "I'm not finished..."

In fact, the 41-year-old president was just getting started. His shock tactics to reinvent the tired old G-7 format were beginning to wear on his colleagues, and that was even before they discovered what was headed their way (literally). But one, key actor had been let in on the secret.

As lunch was wrapping up, reporters and advisers in Biarritz began tracking a plane on the Flightradar app that was approaching the town's closed airport. Iran's green, white and red flag was emblazoned on the jet's blue tailwing.

Onboard, was Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Iran has divided the G-7 ever since Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal with the country in 2018. European countries want to salvage the agreement but the U.S. president is holding firm. Zarif himself is under U.S. sanctions and had his movements heavily restricted during a recent visit to New York.

Barack Obama's team choreographed his movements around the United Nations headquarters in 2009 to avoid a chance run-in with the Iranians. Bringing Zarif to the same beach resort as Trump looked like a highly provocative move given the U.S. administration's hostility to the Iranian regime.

Posted by at August 26, 2019 12:00 AM

  

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