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Macron opts to appease Trump (sort of)

President Macron made a speech in Washington advocating many of the things US President Donald Trump has spent much of his presidency trying to destroy, The Guardian reports. Over the course of a 50-minute address in English to a joint meeting of Congress, the French President said he was “sure” that the US would one day return to the Paris climate change accord, and vowed that France would not abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. President Macron repeated an idea he had promoted on Tuesday at a White House meeting with Trump of a “new deal” that would complement the 2015 accord with a broader remit to address Iranian ballistic missile development and its military role across the Middle East, The Guardian reports.

President Trump, The Washington Post’s front page reports, “signalled willingness Tuesday to consider what visiting French President Emmanuel Macron called ‘a new deal with Iran’ that would address shortcomings in the existing nuclear pact.” Iranian President Ruhani wondered yesterday “with what right” Trump and Macron demanded a new agreement, since they had not even fulfilled the previous one, Tageblatt reports. Not only Iran, but also co-signatories Russia and China, oppose any renegotiation of the nuclear agreement, French, Belgian, Austrian and other media note. According to Naftemproki, even the Europeans – discontent with President Macron’s stance – are ruling out the possibility of renegotiating the nuclear deal with Iran.

Italian media report that High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini defended the existing accord on Wednesday, saying “there is one agreement, it works and it must be maintained.” For Helsingin Sanomat, however, while Ms Mogherini called for the preservation of the agreement, she left open the question of whether there could be changes to it. A critical CNN report notes that, while Mr Macron “could not have hoped” for what he got in the White House, some suggest that he may have been “following too blindly” where the US President leads and that he “may have gone too far” by giving President Trump “more than Europe may have wanted.”

The suggestion of France taking the role of reliable security partner has not been discusses with his European partners, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes, adding that the outcome of the move will be known in May when the unpredictable President Trump decides whether to reinstate the sanctions on Tehran. During the Brussels donor conference for Syria, EU and UN officials called for the resumption of political negotiations to put an end to the conflict in Syria, Mediafax.ro reports. High-Representative/Vice-President Mogherini stated that meaningful political negotiations were needed, as that was the only solution for Syria. She added that the urgent cessation of hostilities was vital, in particular to ensure humanitarian aid to civil society. It is important to begin a political dialogue with those who can bring Damascus to the negotiating table, Ms Mogherini added, as quoted by Nova TV.

As reported by The Times, Ms Mogherini called on Russia, Turkey and Iran to push Assad back to the negotiating table, noting that many donors refuse to help rebuild Syria until progress towards peace has been made. At the conference, international donors collected only half of the expected sum for war-torn Syria, while the Commission promised Turkey another €3 billion for Syrian refugees, Nova TV reports. International donors pledged $4.4 billion for Syria “for this year alone,” as Commissioner Stylianides put it, with the largest contribution coming from the EU. UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock particularly thanked the EU, Germany and Britain for their exceptionally large contributions, Antena 1 reports. The EU, as a whole, pledged almost $6 billion until 2019, Commissioner Stylianides stressed, as reported by Antena 1.

©EuropeanUnion2018

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