French Official Sources Defend Le Drian’s Visit to Tehran

French Official Sources Defend Le Drian’s Visit to Tehran

Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 - 10:15
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (AFP)
Paris - Michel Abou Najm
French media agreed on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has returned from his visit to Tehran “empty-handed”, and has failed to change the Iranian stance on several issues, including Iran’s ballistic missile program and Tehran’s regional policy and its supposed structural reforms to generate foreign investment and improve trade and economic partnerships.
 
However, French diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that although they support such analysis, they believe that the purpose of the visit was not “to have Iran sign a pledge”, but that the French minister sought to explain his country’s position and demands in front of a wide spectrum of reformists and non-reformists.
 
These sources added that the other objective was to express “the concerns of Paris based on our information and our reading of the current situation and the problems associated with the nuclear agreement, Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional policy”, which President Emmanuel Macron and Le Drian had expressed on several occasions.
 
Paris considers Le Drian’s recent visit as the first opportunity for French diplomacy to “take full account of Iran’s political spectrum and look directly at its diversity,” according to the sources.
 
As revealed by the diplomatic sources, the rhetoric used by Secretary-General of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani on the fate of the nuclear agreement and the language used by President Hassan Rouhani were “really divergent.” While the former said there was “no cause for concern” if Washington broke the agreement, threatening that Iran was ready to abandon the deal, Rouhani, on the other hand, expressed “adherence” to it.
 
But what seemed to be incomprehensible was the cancellation of Le Drian’s meeting with Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. Paris did not mention the reasons for the annulment of the meeting.
 
The official sources said that during the foreign minister’s visit, each side has presented in detail its arguments and analysis of the situation. Le Drian held more than six hours of “frank and direct” discussions, twice the time initially allotted to him. In addition, the Iranian side showed “interest” in pursuing discussions with the French official, who was the first European minister concerned with the nuclear file to visit Tehran since US President Donald Trump threatened to veto the agreement if it was not amended sufficiently.
 
However, all these discussions did not make the Iranian side change its positions or show flexibility or openness towards the demands that Le Drian has presented, which included framing Iran’s missile program and pursuing a “different policy” towards its direct and indirect neighborhood.

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