President Obama and French President François Hollande spoke by phone Wednesday about ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program and affirmed that they were in “full agreement” over the international community’s handling of negotiations, the White House announced.
“The United States and France are in full agreement regarding the P5+1’s unified proposal to Iran and the approach to negotiations,” said the White House in a statement, downplaying any potential rift within the group of world powers spearheading talks.
They added that the two leaders “consider the P5+1 proposal to be a sound step toward assuring the international community that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”
The phone call came after efforts to broker a deal that would offer temporary and limited sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s suspension of its nuclear program faltered over the weekend in Geneva.
Several key U.S. allies, including France, publicly grumbled that the terms being negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry were insufficiently tough on Tehran. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that Paris would not accept a “sucker’s deal.”
The French criticism was seized on by lawmakers in the U.S. who fear that the Obama administration is conceding too much in talks with little concrete assurance that Iran will rein in its nuclear program.
Iran says its nuclear energy program is for peaceful purposes, but the international community worries Tehran is building weapons.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday also downplayed any idea of a split among the P5+1 group, composed of the U.S., United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany.
Carney said it was Iran that had rejected the P5+1 offer and that the group was “unified on the proposal that was put forward.”
Talks with Iran are set to resume Nov. 20.
The White House said that the U.S. “deeply values its relationship with France, including as NATO allies, and we will continue to consult closely on global security.”