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French President Macron Says He's Trying To Get U.S. And Iran To Discuss Nuclear Deal


The Group of Seven - that is the leading industrial democracies - wrapped up their summit today in France. President Trump addressed reporters, and if there was a theme, it was this...


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think we're going to make a deal with China. And I think we'll probably - eventually we're going to make a deal with Iran, too.

CHANG: To explain what the president was talking about, we are joined now by NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Hey, Tam.


CHANG: So let's start with Iran. President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement last year, right? So what is he now talking about with respect to a deal with Iran?

KEITH: Well, let's be clear that if there is a deal to be had, it is a long way off. The Iran nuclear agreement was negotiated by President Obama along with European countries, Russia and China. Trump has, for a long time, called that a bad deal even when he was campaigning. He pulled out of it in 2018. And recently Iran has begun some small violations of the terms of the agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was the host of this G-7, has been trying to save the deal or revive it or otherwise get the U.S. engaged. And today he held a joint press conference with President Trump, and right there with President Trump standing next to him, went so far as to say that he is hoping to facilitate a meeting between President Trump and Iran's president, Rouhani. And President Trump seemed receptive to it and said that he thought a meeting could happen.

CHANG: OK. What would come out of that meeting, we don't know yet. But President Trump - he had said earlier that a deal - that the deal with Iran was terrible, so what would he be looking for at this point?

KEITH: So it seems that what he would be looking for is his own thing, a deal that he negotiated. Also, he is looking for something that would be stronger and over a longer term. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: I think that Iran is a country of tremendous potential. We're not looking for leadership change. We're not looking for that kind of change. This country has been through that many times before. That doesn't work. We're looking for no nuclear weapons, no ballistic missiles and a longer period of time - very simple.

KEITH: And the previous agreement did not address ballistic missiles. That had been one of President Trump's complaints with it. Whether something can be worked out is really not clear - really, really not clear.

CHANG: All right. Turning to China now. So going into this G-7 summit, global markets took a dive because of rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China starting Friday. Is there any sort of sign that those tensions are easing at this point?

KEITH: So President Trump said some words earlier today and then again in his press conference that were meant to be calming, where he talked about thinking that China wants to make a deal. And he was asked at this press conference by New York Times reporter Michael Shear about sort of the back-and-forth between his tweets that were very inflammatory on Friday and then these more calming words today.

CHANG: Right.


TRUMP: You're talking about global economic instability. I don't consider instability because...

MICHAEL SHEAR: Right but one of the things it comes from is the back-and-forth and the changing statements from yourself so that...

TRUMP: Sorry. It's the way I negotiate.

SHEAR: So my question is, is that a strategy? Is it a strategy to call President Xi an enemy one day and then say that relations are great the next day and...

TRUMP: Yeah. No, no, no.

SHEAR: ...Then - I mean, you know, it's gone back-and-forth so many times.

TRUMP: It's the way I negotiate. It's done very well for me over the years, and it's doing even better for the country.

KEITH: So are the U.S. and China any closer to a trade deal today than they were on Friday when the president was tweeting? It is impossible to know from the president's words alone.

CHANG: All right. That's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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