With the Western powers in varying degrees unable to come to grips with the proposed nuclear proliferation in Iran, the embattled country’s new President, Ebrahim Raisi, has let it be known that the government in Tehran is ready for what he calls “useful” talks aimed at ending the crippling sanctions against Iran. His stance sounded decidedly conditional. As much is clear from his telephone talk with the French President, Emmanuel Macron. “We do not oppose useful negotiations, but the plan and result of negotiations must be the lifting of sanctions against Iran,” he said in his second conversation with Mr Macron within a month, as quoted by the Iranian presidency’s official website. Aside from the nuclear issue, the independence of Iran and France in their policies is a “valuable reserve” that may be used to establish “balanced, strong and stable” ties between the two countries, Raisi told the French President. Additionally, the Iranian President has been fairly vehement about the American “intervention” in Afghanistan. “The US and Nato policy of military intervention has failed, and 20 years of occupation (2001-21) have yielded no benefits” for the Afghan people. “In the current situation, everyone must help form an inclusive government with the participation of all groups” in the country and let the Afghan people decide their own destiny, he added. The message, albeit conveyed to the French President, must resonate in the echo chambers of distant Kabul, where a consensus on an interim head of government has been rather belatedly announced on Tuesday. Regarding Lebanon, President Raisi expressed Iran’s support for the formation of a strong government that can ensure and protect the rights of the Lebanese. It was reassuring to hear that Iran would not withhold any humanitarian aid to Lebanon, and President Raisi has articulated Tehran’s readiness to cooperate with France for the progress. For his part, President Macron stressed the decidedly geopolitical imperative to review the ties between France and Iran, and expressed the interest of Paris in developing its relations with Tehran. The French leader mentioned the Afghan refugees in Iran as well as the problems caused by their presence, and emphasized the need for the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The underlying effort was distinctly to strengthen ties between Iran and France. As regards the situation in Lebanon, Mr Macron expressed France’s readiness to cooperate with Iran, along with Hezbollah to help create a strong and efficient government in the country. He expressed the hope that the Vienna talks, aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement, could resume with the presence of Iran. The Raisi-Macron talks, therefore, covered a welter of international issues, though nuclear proliferation and sanctions had formed the peg for the conversation through the ether. Overall, it is clear from this and his other engagements that as Mrs Angela Merkel prepares to withdraw from public life, the French President is poised to emerge as the most visible face of European diplomacy.