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Iranian, French presidents discuss nuke deal, Ukraine war in rare phone call

June 11, 2023 at 11:50 am

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. (R) [Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images]

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi held a rare phone call on Saturday with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during which they agreed to develop bilateral relations, according to his office, Anadolu reports.

In a statement, Raisi’s office said the Iranian leader referred to “miscalculations” by some European countries regarding Iran, and attributed it to “false information from terrorist, separatist and hostile groups.”

The Iranian president was referring to opposition group MEK, which has a strong presence in Europe, including in France, as well as Iranian activists who held meetings with Macron in Paris during recent protests in Iran triggered by the death of a young woman in police custody.

Raisi underlined “respect for the principle of national sovereignty” during his phone call with Macron, the statement noted.

The two leaders also discussed the Iran nuclear deal talks that remain stalled since last August amid key disagreements between Tehran and Washington as well as Iran’s interaction with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Raisi, according to the statement, told his French counterpart that Iran has adhered to its legal obligations and stressed “avoiding politicking and non-constructive actions” in the negotiations that have been underway since April 2021.

READ: UK universities helped Iran develop military drone programme, report claims

The war in Ukraine also figured in the two leaders’ discussions with Raisi affirming his country’s “firm policy of opposing war” and terming diplomacy as “the best solution”.

European countries have slapped a series of sanctions on Iran in recent months for the alleged shipment of drones to Russia. Iran has denied the charge but acknowledged that a limited number of drones were supplied to Russia before the war.

The phone call between the two presidents came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over the stalemate in the nuclear deal talks and the proliferation of nuclear and ballistic missile activities by Iran.

In a Twitter post on Saturday, Raisi’s deputy chief of staff and key aide Mohammad Jamshidi said Macron called the Iranian president and both leaders had a conversation that lasted 90 minutes.

He said Macron emphasized that he is “looking for interaction” with Iran, adding that the two presidents agreed to promote bilateral relations and maintain their interaction.

Macron’s office, meanwhile, said in a statement that the French leader warned his Iranian counterpart of the consequences of delivering drones to Russia.

READ: France warns Iran on drone deliveries to Russia