“We hope France will not yield” on its firm stance during talks with Iran, says Netanyahu ahead of visit by Hollande.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday urged France to stand firm in international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, AFP reports.
“We hope France will not yield,” Netanyahu said in an interview to the Le Figaro newspaper due out on Saturday.
“For us, the United States remains an important ally, the most important ally. But our relationship with France is also very special,” he added.
The interview comes after France took a tougher line than its Western partners last week in Geneva talks aimed at resolving the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program.
During the talks, France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, warned his colleagues not to be fooled by Iran’s proposals saying that while “the initial text [of the proposal] made progress,” there were still a couple of unsatisfying points.
Those comments, which are similar to concerns Israel has expressed over the agreement, caused Iranian officials to slam Fabius, claiming his views “express the positions of the Zionist regime.”
In fact, France’s Ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, said Wednesday that it was thanks to his country’s tough stance that a deal was not signed over the weekend that would have eased sanctions on Tehran in exchange for a promise to limit uranium enrichment.
“On the Iran issue, our countries have defended common stances for years, regardless of the party in power, and we are maintaining this vital partnership with President [Francois] Hollande,” Netanyahu told the French newspaper.
“We welcome his coherent and resolute stance on the Iranian issue,” he said.
“I strongly believe we should not lower our defenses,” Netanyahu said, calling the Iranian regime “aggressive, violent, messianic and apocalyptic.”
“This country is in the process of acquiring intercontinental ballistic missiles, of which the Geneva draft accord says nothing,” he added, repeating his warning that the proposals made to Iran are dangerous.
“And what are they for? Not for striking Israel, which they can already do, but for extending their reach to Paris, London, Washington or New York… When dealing with Iran, being weak or naive is not an option,” declared Netanyahu.
The Prime Minister’s comments were made ahead of Hollande’s first visit to Israel as France’s president.
Hollande, who arrives Sunday, will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Fabius and an entourage of more than 200 people.
Hollande is to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum on Sunday.
That evening bilateral cooperation agreements are to be signed at a meeting between the French president and Netanyahu to further cooperation on areas of strategic importance and to strengthen economic, scientific and cultural ties.
Then on Monday, after visiting members of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hollande is to address a special session of the Knesset.
The decision to talk at the Knesset comes after initial reports that Hollande intended to snub the Israeli parliament and talk in front of students instead. The initial intention caused a minor falling out at the time.