Newspaper article The Canadian Press

G7 Leaders Can't Avoid Iran at Summit with Trump, Say European Diplomats

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

G7 Leaders Can't Avoid Iran at Summit with Trump, Say European Diplomats

Article excerpt

G7 will talk about Iran with Trump: diplomats

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OTTAWA - Donald Trump's decision Tuesday to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement will be a topic of discussion at next month's G7 summit in Quebec's Charlevoix region, European diplomats say.

It will join trade issues among the more potentially charged topics that could highlight divisions between the mercurial U.S. president and his G7 counterparts -- an unenviable position for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he hosts them for two days of talks.

The European ambassadors, who were taking part in a panel discussion on the upcoming summit, played down the potential for divisions with the U.S. -- including the potential for a new G6 configuration that would exclude America -- saying the small exclusive club of the world's richest countries could handle a round of frank discussion.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed Canada's regret over the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which she called "essential" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability and ensuring global security.

"Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons," Freeland said in a written statement. "The JCPOA has subjected Iran's nuclear program to a rigorous and unprecedented international verification regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency."

She acknowledged that the deal, agreed to by Iran in 2015 and endorsed by the United Nations, "is not perfect. It has, however, helped to curb a real threat to international peace and security."

Freeland noted that just two weeks ago, G7 foreign ministers unanimously committed to "permanently ensuring that Iran's nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful, in line with its non-proliferation treaty obligations and its commitments under the (JCPOA)."

"Canada regrets that the United States has decided to withdraw from the JCPOA, particularly given that, according to the IAEA, Iran continues to implement its JCPOA commitments," she said.

Many of Canada's western allies similarly expressed their disappointment at Trump's decision, which served as a harbinger of how fast-moving global events can upset the carefully scripted G7 agenda that Trudeau will be trying to advance.

"It is evident that actually this will be one of the topics to be discussed at the summit," Peteris Ustubs, the European Union ambassador to Canada, said of Trump's decision.

But Ustubs dismissed any suggestion that the U.S. position had potential to "diminish and change the formulation" of the club to a G6.

"We should avoid thinking that (the) G7 is only the club of the convenient conversations," said Ustubs. "If there are conversations which are inconvenient that's the part of the G7 conversations."

The European Union is a full-fledged member of the G7, but it does not have so-called numbered status.

Germany's ambassador to Canada, Sabine Sparwasser, said the G7 has always been a forum where there is room for disagreement and discussion. …

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