France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

Presidential press advisor Nathalie Baudon, left, and diplomatic advisor Emmanuel Bonne stand in the court of the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AFP file photo)
Updated 20 June 2019

France’s Macron sends senior diplomat to Iran to defuse US tensions

  • Emmanuel Bonne held ‘high-level meetings’ Wednesday in Tehran
  • The French presidency refused to say whom the top diplomatic adviser met

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron sent his top diplomatic adviser to Iran this week as part of European efforts to defuse tensions between Tehran and Washington, the French presidency said Thursday.
The adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, held “high-level meetings” Wednesday in Tehran, “with the aim of contributing to the de-escalation of tensions in the region,” Macron’s office said.
The presidency refused to say whom Bonne met, adding only that he left Tehran on Wednesday evening.
The strains between Washington and Tehran increased Thursday with Iran’s announcement that it had shot down a US “spy drone” that violated Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.
The United States has yet to respond.
The incident marks the latest escalation in tensions following last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, which the United States blamed on Iran.
Tehran has denied any involvement.
Tensions between the longtime foes, who have had no relations since the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution, have increased sharply since US President Donald Trump last year abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and re-imposed sanctions.
Macron, who is traveling to a G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka on June 28-29, will “have contact with the main players” in the standoff, his office said.
Before that he will pay an official visit to Japan on June 26-27, during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently traveled to Iran to try mediate in the crisis.
Abe met with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who categorically refused to hold talks with Trump.
The EU is under pressure from Tehran to try salvage the 2015 deal, with Iran threatening to breach its nuclear enrichment limits.
On Tuesday, Macron urged Tehran to be “patient and responsible.”


Netanyahu aide found to have coronavirus, unclear if Israeli PM affected

Updated 42 min ago

Netanyahu aide found to have coronavirus, unclear if Israeli PM affected

  • The Health Ministry generally requires 14-day self-isolation and possible coronavirus testing for anyone deemed to have been in proximity with an infected person
  • Israel has reported 4,247 cases and 15 fatalities

JERUSALEM: An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tested positive for coronavirus, officials said on Monday, but it was not immediately clear if the 70-year-old leader had been exposed or his work affected.
“We will take action in accordance with Health Ministry directives,” an official said, announcing the diagnosis of the parliamentary aide, whom Israeli media described as being in good condition.
The Health Ministry generally requires 14-day self-isolation and possible coronavirus testing for anyone deemed to have been in proximity with an infected person.
Israeli media said the aide had been present at a parliament session last week attended by Netanyahu as well as opposition lawmakers with whom he is trying to build an emergency coalition government to help address the coronavirus crisis.
Israel has reported 4,247 cases and 15 fatalities. With the Health Ministry warning that the dead could eventually number in the thousands, Netanyahu was due on Monday to convene officials on Monday to discuss a proposed lockdown of some of the country.
Netanyahu was tested for coronavirus as a precaution on March 15, his office said. The result was negative.