Friday, 23 June, 2017

Fabius, Visiting Tehran, Invites Rouhani to France

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On the first visit to Iran for 12 years by a French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius conveyed an invitation from President Francois Hollande to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to visit France in November, Iranian news agency ISNA said.

The last Iranian president to make a state visit to France was Mohammad Khatami in 1999, when Jacques Chirac was president.

Fabius met with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and was also due to meet Rouhani on his one-day visit, two weeks after a landmark deal under which Western sanctions are to be lifted in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear program.

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Zarif said in a televised news conference, “We began good discussions to reach regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”

Marking a contrast to his tough stance in the nuclear talks, Fabius was quoted as saying by Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB that France wanted to foster good relations with Iran.

French Trade Delegation Arrives in Tehran in September

Fabius also said that a high-ranking French economic and business delegation would visit Iran in September.

France hopes to secure business deals in Iran once international sanctions are lifted, and Fabius said last week that his hard line in the nuclear negotiations would not stand in the way of French business opportunities.

Some Iranian hardliners want to block French business deals because of Paris’s stance during the talks and France’s close ties with Gulf Arab governments that are locked in a regional power struggle with Tehran.

Images on social media showed protests against Fabius at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, and flyers depicting a bloody red carpet and the pledge: “We will not forgive or forget.”

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Fabius was also due to meet Industry Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, and Masoumeh Ebtekar, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Iran’s state news agency IRNA said.

He said he would discuss political issues as well as business opportunities during the visit, and has previously said he expects to have talks “on all subjects”.

“As major powers, Iran and France both have a responsibility to promote peace and stability in the region,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian broadcaster IRIB.

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