France responded on August 9 to public criticism from Donald Trump in which the U.S. president suggested Paris was sending "mixed signals" to Iran over possible talks with Washington, saying that "France speaks for itself on Iran as a sovereign power."
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stressed that his country was eager to tamp down tensions, which have risen since the United States exited a nuclear deal last year that traded curbs on Iran's nuclear program for sanctions relief.
"France is deeply committed to peace and security in the region, is committed to de-escalating tensions, and does not need any authorization to do so," Le Drian said in a statement.
Trump on August 8 accused French President Emmanuel Macron of sending “mixed signals” to Tehran.
"Iran is in serious financial trouble. They want desperately to talk to the U.S., but are given mixed signals from all of those purporting to represent us, including President Macron of France," Trump tweeted on August 8.
"I know Emmanuel means well, as do all others, but nobody speaks for the United States but the United States itself," Trump wrote.
In May 2018, Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal that Iran signed with six world powers and began reimposing crippling sanctions on Tehran, saying the terms were not strict enough to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons.
Trump has indicated he is willing to talk to Iranian leaders, but Tehran has said that the sanctions must first be lifted.
France, along with Britain, Germany, Russia, and China, has remained a part of the 2015 nuclear deal and unsuccessfully urged Washington to stay in the accord.
It was not immediately clear what Trump was referring to in his tweets, and the White House did not comment.
A report earlier this week by Al-Monitor said the French leader had invited Iranian President Hassan Rohani to a Group of 7 (G7) summit later this month in France to meet Trump.
A French diplomat denied the report and told Reuters that "the priority is that Iran adheres to its nuclear obligations."
Along with the rift over nuclear issues, tensions have been rising between the West and Tehran over a series of incidents in and around the Persian Gulf.
Fears of an armed conflict have risen following a number of occurrences in the region, including attacks on Western oil tankers in off the coast of Oman, a country located across the strategic Strait of Hormuz from Iran.
No injuries were reported in those attacks, but vessels were damaged, and the United States and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran and its proxies for the attacks. Tehran has denied any involvement.
Following those incidents, Iranian commandos seized a British-flagged tanker in the strait on July 19, two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.
On August 5, Britain said it was joining the United States in an "international maritime security mission" to protect merchant vessels traveling through the strait, a key shipping lane.
Paris Says It 'Speaks For Itself' After Trump Criticizes Macron On Iran