Official speeches and statements - March 6, 2018
1. Iran - Syria - Nuclear agreement - Statements to the press by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Tehran,2018-03-05)
THE MINISTER - Ladies and gentlemen,
I came to Tehran at the French President’s request, to meet the Iranian authorities: the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, my colleague Mohammad Javad Zarif, and President Hassan Rouhani. The talks were lengthy, because I had five hours of in-depth discussions. Those discussions were frank. This meeting was important, in an especially tense regional context.
First of all, there’s the Syria situation, where there’s not only the risk of a humanitarian disaster but also the risk of a regional conflagration tomorrow. It’s a tense context because the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme is disputed, and today it’s in question.
The Iranian authorities - in particular President Rouhani - let me know they were very determined to pursue the nuclear agreement and do everything to ensure it’s maintained. The Iranian authorities also conveyed to me their deep concerns about the humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in Eastern Ghouta, and expressed to me their desire to find a way of avoiding this catastrophe. They said they wanted every means to be taken to that end, in particular observance of the United Nations resolution.
Moreover, in the volatile situation the region is experiencing, I was able to highlight several questions we have vis-à-vis Iran.
First of all concerning regional crises, the role that Iran - which has the weight of a large country but also the intervention capabilities of a large country - wants to play in the various crises. We had the opportunity to discuss all these issues very clearly and unambiguously, with each of us clearly expressing his viewpoint.
I also had the opportunity to question the Iranian authorities about their idea of the ballistic programme.
I had the opportunity to convey France’s pressing concerns about these two issues. There again, there’s a lot of work to do. On the other hand, we fully concur on the Vienna agreement nuclear treaty, and we’ve also shown this, because we’ve abolished our sanctions and allowed trade relations between France and Iran to resume. So we must do everything to ensure that the agreement, which is historic, can hold.
On the humanitarian aspect, we’re also absolutely determined to help ensure that the crisis we’re seeing develop can stop. But Iran and Russia are in direct relation with the regime and they have the ability to intervene robustly. Apart from that, a lot of work remains.
Q. - On the issue of Iran’s hegemony in the region, what was the response from your contacts?
THE MINISTER - Let me tell you that there’s also still a lot of work. We had very robust, very free discussions, each expressing his point of view with, I think, a great deal of honesty but also clarity and firmness.
We’ve decided to continue meeting; we need to have talks in this period of crisis, we need to talk to everyone. We need to talk to Moscow, to Tehran; this is what we’ve been doing this week and what the President does very regularly. We’re in a very tense situation, it mustn’t lead to explosions, which no one would want or wants to see today. Stability must be restored to the region and this is France’s goal. It’s what we tried to communicate to our partners.
Q. - But everyone is sticking to their positions?
THE MINISTER - I’ve told you about the points we noted on the nuclear agreement, on the need for the international community to take action to avoid a military disaster. As for the rest, there’s still a lot of work to do.
Q. - On the ballistic programme, you said that Iran was running the risk of further sanctions; did you talk to the Iranians about this?
THE MINISTER - I said there was a lot of work to do.
Q. - You came here very ambitious; are you disappointed?
THE MINISTER - No, I came wanting to talk, with a concern to get across France’s concerns and positions. I think we had a fruitful discussion in that respect, with each expressing his point of view, and we’ve decided to meet again. In this period it’s necessary to talk to everyone; I did so in Moscow a few days ago./.