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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

French Foreign Minister: Iran cannot avoid talks on missiles and meddling

Jean-Yves Le Drian made the comments as he arrived at a meeting of Foreign Ministers in Vienna

French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian delivers a speech at the annual French ambassadors' conference in Paris. File. Reuters
French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian delivers a speech at the annual French ambassadors' conference in Paris. File. Reuters

Iran "cannot avoid" talks on contentious issues like its ballistic missile program or meddling in conflicts in the Middle East, if it wants Europe to uphold the nuclear deal, the French Foreign Minister said today.

Speaking at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Vienna on Thursday, Jean-Yves Le Drian said: "Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA [nuclear deal] and I think that is the case, but Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us."

France, at the same time as being one of Iran's closest defender's in Europe, is coaxing the country to soften its stance towards the West.

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Yesterday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country could scrap the deal if it doesn't serve their national interests.

In minutes from a meeting with the cabinet and President Hassan Rouhani, Mr Khamenei said "there is no problem with continuing relations and negotiations with Europe, but hope should be abandoned regarding matters such as the nuclear deal".

The message would have pushed the Iran question to the front of EU Foreign Ministers minds, ahead of their meeting in Vienna.

EU foreign ministers are working to uphold the deal, which provides relief from sanctions on Iran in exchange for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons after the United States pull out of the deal on the orders of US President Donald Trump. The deal was struck in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama.

Ministers will also discuss situations in Yemen, Libya and Syria, as well as denuclearisation of North Korea, according to an EU website.

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