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European Leniency towards Iran Bets on Rouhani Seeing Eye-to-Eye

European Leniency towards Iran Bets on Rouhani Seeing Eye-to-Eye

Thursday, 4 January, 2018 - 12:30
Emmanuel Macron addresses the media during a press conference held in Paris, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (Photo | AP)

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has pushed for the third time his visit to Tehran, in light of protests taking place there. France fears that the visit will wrongly translate as validation granted to authorities there using violent oppression against demonstrators.

Following a telephone conversation with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, French President Emmanuel Macron made sure that the postponement of the visit was "with the consent of both parties" and that a "new date" would be sought.

Le Drian’s visit will be to arrange for the first trip for a French president since 1976.

Macron is the sole Western leader who spoke to Rouhani, reflecting a French desire to carry its communication with the Iranian side, European diplomatic sources said.

France hopes that such communication will help it gain influence over Tehran’s policy, especially concerning its ballistic missile program which it repeatedly cast off as a part and parcel of ambitions for the clerical regime to establish hegemony.

More so, Macron is said to believe that Iran’s missile program remains boundless.

But France cannot keep silent on brutal repression exercised against protesters in many Iranian cities, who receive "minimal" services.

France has expressed "concern" over the number of victims of repressive acts and extensive arrests carried out by the Iranian security forces against the demonstrators.

Macron stressed the importance of "respect for fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of expression and demonstration," according to a presidential palace statement.

In sum, the French president, who regularly communicates with Rouhani, urged the latter to "exercise restraint and calm."

To avoid misinterpreting the phone call, the presidential statement indicated that it had been planned before the demonstrations kicked off.

French diplomacy seeks an ability to influence Iranian authorities, not only in the nuclear and ballistic issues, but also with regard to Tehran's policy in the region, whether in Syria, the political future of this war-torn country, stability in Lebanon or Gulf security. 

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