published: 2018-03-11 13:10:10
(5 Mar 2018) France’s foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Monday for meetings with the country’s president and his Iranian counterpart, Iran’s state TV reported, with talks likely to focus on Syria’s years-long war and French criticism of Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
Jean-Yves Le Drian’s one-day trip highlights the balancing act Paris finds itself in after Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
While French leaders, including President Emmanuel Macron, have criticised Iran’s missile programme, French companies like oil giant Total SA have bullishly entered the Iranian market after the atomic accord, complicating any possible sanctions.
Ahead of Le Drian’s trip, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying he would pursue “a frank and demanding dialogue with Iran”.
Le Drian faced immediate pushback over French concerns about Iran’s ballistic missiles, starting with Iranian students waving signs at Iran’s Mehrabad International Airport protesting his comments.
That continued with Iran’s armed forces spokesman General Masoud Jazayeri, who this weekend said Tehran only would give up its missiles when the West abandons nuclear weapons.
France, the United States and the United Nations say Iran supplies ballistic missile technology to Shiite rebels in Yemen, who have fired the weapons into Saudi Arabia.
Iran denies supplying the rebels with that and describes its ballistic missile programme as only a defensive weapon.
Le Drian had been scheduled to visit Tehran earlier but postponed his trip after protests across Iran in late December and early January that saw at least 21 people killed.
During his visit, Le Drian is also to inaugurate an exhibition called “The Louvre in Tehran” at the Iranian National Museum.
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