French Role in EU Outreach to Iran Highlighted
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson underscored the role France, as an elite European Union member, can play in boosting the bloc's ties with Iran, particularly by countering the anti-Iran policies of the new US administration.
During the campaign trail, the newly-inaugurated US President Donald Trump promised to take a hard line on Iran and either undo or rework the nuclear deal, negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama to curb Tehran's nuclear work in return for sanctions relief.
"The special role of France in the green continent [Europe] allows it to serve as the epitome of European open-mindedness against the xenophobic campaign waged by the Trump-era America by bolstering the Paris-Berlin-Rome alliance and the role of Brussels, where the EU headquarters is based," Bahram Qasemi also said in a recent interview with ISNA.
Qasemi's remarks followed a visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to Tehran last week at the head of an 80-strong economic delegation. The French minister vowed that his country would defend the nuclear accord in the face of Trump's threats.
Ayrault said it was in the "common interest" that the deal is obeyed by all parties. It was struck between Iran and France and five other powers, namely the US, Britain, China, Russia and Germany, on July 14, 2015, and took effect six months later.
"I'm coming as the defender of the accord, but to be vigilant and explain that [the Iranians] must be irreproachable," the top French diplomat told reporters after landing in Tehran last Monday.
"We harbor real concerns about the US administration's attitude towards this agreement."
French President Francois Hollande called on the hawkish US president last week to express his respect for the pact.
Ayrault's trip coincided with the imposition of a US travel ban against nationals from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries for a provisional three-month period under the pretext of securing US borders.
Trump's executive orders also included a four-month hold on admission of refugees. That hold is indefinite for Syrian refugees.
Trump's directives drew scathing criticism from the French minister, who called them "dangerous" and warned they could amount to "discrimination".
He said the orders should be revoked.
"This has nothing to do with fighting terrorism," Ayrault said.
Ayrault announced that France would double the number of visas available to Iranians.
Amid the row over Trump's travel ban, the Islamic Republic confirmed a recent media report that it has test-fired another ballistic missile—part of its program to boost Iran's deterrence capability—which further escalated Tehran-Washington tensions and prompted the US to impose new sanctions on Iran.