French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, Visits Iran

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, of Iran with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, in Tehran on Wednesday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Behrouz Mehri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, of Iran with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, in Tehran on Wednesday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Behrouz Mehri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

The French foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Wednesday, the latest in a string of visits by officials from European countries seeking closer economic and political ties with Iran after the nuclear agreement this month.

The minister, Laurent Fabius, has been criticized here for his firm stance during the nuclear talks — many Iranians perceived him to be particularly harsh. Those talks concluded on July 14, preparing the way for the lifting of sanctions and opening a path for foreign businesses and investors to return to Iran in exchange for long-term curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.

On Wednesday, Mr. Fabius was warmly received by Iranian officials, and though he has often been called a “Zionist lackey” by the state news media, his visit received prominent coverage on state television.

The visit by Mr. Fabius comes as French companies such as Airbus and the carmakers Peugeot Citroën and Renault have been seeking to renew ties with local producers that were cut because of the sanctions.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Mr. Fabius thanked the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, for his “formula” in the nuclear talks, which Mr. Fabius characterized as “yes to nuclear energy, no to a nuclear bomb.” Mr. Fabius also defended his position during the negotiations, when he often emphasized that Iran needed to give more concessions.

“Our method was to remain firm, because we wanted a deal that no one could object to,” Mr. Fabius said. Now it is time to look to the future, he said, adding that “this deal allows the relations between our countries to develop and allows us to renew cooperation.”

He also invited Mr. Rouhani to visit France for a meeting in November with the French president, François Hollande.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Thomas Erdbrink

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