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As Iran - US “Bilateral” Joined by EU, Might France Ride In, BNP in Tow?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 7 -- With the July 20 deadline to conclude the Iran nuclear talks looking more uncertain, early on June 7 the US State Department announced that “Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman will travel to Geneva for consultations with Iranian officials on June 9-10.”

  Beyond the two days' relation to the July 20 deadline, they also come as Iran sanctions violations by BNP Paribas are being actively defended by French president Francois Hollande and foreign minister Laurent Fabius.

  These June 9-10 US - Iran meetings was called a bilateral and other US attendees were named, including Brooke Anderson, previously at the US Mission to the UN, and Jake Sullivan, who was with Vice President Biden at Petro Poroshenko's inaugural in Kyiv on June 7.

  Then Iranian bilaterals with Russia and China, each separately, were announced. The question arose: what about France and the UK? What about the European Union?

  The EU quickly announced that its Helga Schmid will also play a role -- or “join” -- in Geneva. EU spokesperson Michael Mann said, “The US will hold a bilateral with the deputy chief Iranian negotiator in Geneva next week. EU Political Director Helga Schmid will join. Other bilaterals will follow in the next days.”

  So when is a bilateral meeting NOT a bilateral?

  Soon a US Senior Adminstration Official on background responded to questions: “As we've said - and as the EU just noted - these talks are intensifying. The P5+1 and the EU have been in total coordination throughout these talks, including regarding bilateral discussions. As such, EU Political Director Helga Schmid will join in Geneva as well.”

  So again: when is a bilateral no longer a bilateral? Will France itself try to participate, with Jacques Audibert's replacement Nicolas de Riviere a/k/a Flippy Nic?

  How to compare France's hard-line position on Iran and sanctions violations now that Francois Hollande and Laurent Fabuis are actively defending sanctions violations, not only to Sudan but also Iran, by BNP Paribas? A new dynamic? Watch this site.


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