Trump, Macron downplay differences over Iran

Trump, Macron downplay differences over Iran
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronBig donors haven't given money pledged to Notre Dame restoration: report Big donors haven't given money pledged to Notre Dame restoration: report Macron will gift Trump another tree after first one died MORE on Thursday sought to downplay any split over how to keep Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, despite a rift between the two leaders over the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

"I don’t think we have differences over Iran," Trump told reporters ahead of a bilateral meeting with Macron in Caen, France.

"I don’t think that the president wants to see nuclear weapons and neither do I," he continued "And that’s what it’s all about."

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The Trump administration has taken a hard-line approach toward Iran, raising the specter of a potential conflict. Meanwhile, France has been part of a coalition of nations seeking to maintain the Obama-era nuclear pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program.

Trump asserted on Thursday that sanctions imposed by the U.S. after pulling out of the agreement have crippled Iran's economy and left the nation in tatters.

"They’re doing very poorly as a nation," he said. "They’re failing as a nation. And I don't want them to fail as a nation. We can turn that around very quickly, but the sanctions have been extraordinary how powerful they’ve been, and other things. I understand they want to talk and if they want to talk that’s fine."

Iranian leaders have rejected the possibility of negotiations with the U.S., and the Trump administration announced it will deploy additional troops to the region, further escalating tensions. 

Macron, who unsuccessfully lobbied Trump to remain in the JCPOA, sought to portray the two leaders as on the same page.

"I think we do share the same objective on Iran," the French leader said.

He listed four common priorities of the U.S. and France in addressing Iranian behavior moving forward: preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, reducing Iran's ballistic activity, containing Iran's regional activity and establishing peace in the region. 

"All the other debates are about technicalities," he said, calling for fresh negotiations to extend the terms of the JCPOA and to achieve those goals.