Leaders of the G7, or Group of Seven, which includes the United States, Canada, several Western European nations and Japan, landed in the southwestern French town of Biarritz on Saturday for the group’s annual summit. They were surprised the next day, however, at the arrival of Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. He wasn’t formally invited to the summit but was there at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron. Zarif met with Macron and French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian before leaving the same day. The White House claims that Trump didn’t know of Macron’s plans to host Zarif, though an unnamed French diplomat told Agence France-Presse that “We work in complete transparency with the United States” and that information had circulated about Zarif’s visit. The meeting came as France and other European partners aim to uphold the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that restricts Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions. The United States pulled out of the deal last year and Iran followed suit with a partial withdrawal in May.
President Trump also announced on Friday before leaving for the summit that the U.S. would tax French wine in response to French taxes on U.S. technology companies. European Council President Donald Tusk responded by announcing that any U.S. tax on French wine would be met with an appropriate European Union response.
With us to unpack the weekend’s events and what they mean for trade and international relations is Maxime H. A. Larivé, a Research Associate at the EU Center of Excellence at the University of Miami.