Macron: Nuclear Deal Bedrock of Mutual Coop.

Macron: Nuclear Deal Bedrock of Mutual Coop.Macron: Nuclear Deal Bedrock of Mutual Coop.

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his defense of the Iran nuclear deal, ruling out a renegotiation of the widely supported international agreement demanded by hawkish US President Donald Trump.

"The JCPOA is the bedrock of our cooperation with Iran and cannot be changed," Macron said, using an abbreviation that stands for the official title of the accord, namely the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"France is seeking to forge a constructive dialogue and relationship with Iran," IRNA also quoted Macron as saying in a meeting with Iran's new ambassador in Paris, Abolqasem Delfi, on Monday.

Submitting his credentials to the French president, Delfi reasserted Tehran's opposition to any foreign interference in the region, stressing that regional issues must be resolved through dialogue.

Despite Macron's reassuring words, tensions between Iran and France have risen in recent months over France's call for new curbs on Tehran's missile program and regional activities to appease Trump.

  Pressure Over Missiles

During a visit to Washington, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris and Washington are determined to "vigorously" raise pressure on Iran over its ballistic missile program, including possibly through sanctions.

Le Drian was in the American capital on Monday to meet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Trump's special advisor, Jared Kushner, Reuters reported. Ali Akbar Velayati, a foreign policy advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, on Sunday criticized Macron over his ambivalent stance toward Tehran and said Paris would soon lose its international credibility if it "blindly follows" Trump.

"They didn't like the word, but I stand by it," Le Drian told reporters. "Iran's [alleged] hegemonic temptations in the region are a matter of urgency because it's within the framework of getting peace in Iraq and Syria that we will stop this process."

Iranian officials have been particularly roiled by France's criticism of its ballistic missile tests and suggestions of possible new sanctions over the program, which Tehran said is solely defensive in nature.

Le Drian, who is due to visit Iran at the beginning of January, said he would tell them clearly of Paris' concerns.

"We are fully determined to press very vigorously on Iran to stop the development of an increasingly significant ballistic capability," the top diplomat said, reiterating that sanctions were possible.

Macron, unlike Trump, has reaffirmed his country's commitment to the deal Iran signed in 2015 with world powers under which it curbed its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions.

After talks with the US officials, Le Drian said he believed that Washington was beginning to appreciate the European stance on maintaining the accord.


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