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      Hollande: Rocard Went to Iran on Own Initiative

      Hollande's transition team denies that the President-elect sent former French PM to Iran; Iranian media portray it as a diplomatic mission.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 5/14/2012, 9:21 AM

      Francois Hollande
      Francois Hollande
      Reuters

      President-elect Francois Hollande’s transition team says a visit by a former French prime minister to Iran is “totally private” despite its portrayal in the Iranian media as a diplomatic mission, the Associated Press reported.

      A member of his team denied that Hollande had sent former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard to visit Tehran. According to reports, Rocard went to Iran for a private visit, not at the request of the president-elect.

      “It was a purely individual initiative,’ Socialist lawmaker Arnaud Montebourg said in an interview on BFMTV, adding that he doesn’t know whether the Socialist Party will sanction Rocard for the trip.

      Jean-Francois Cope, who heads outgoing President Nicholas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement party, said today he wants Hollande to clarify his position on Iran, according to Bloomberg News.

      “I don’t know what a private initiative is,” Cope said today in an interview on the France Inter radio station.

      Rocard “is close to Francois Hollande,” Cope said. “Now we discover he’s received with all the honors by Iranian leaders. I can’t believe Rocard did this in total disconnect with Hollande.”

      Under Nicolas Sarkozy, France took a tough line on Iran with regards to its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

      Hollande, who takes office Tuesday, has little foreign policy experience and has stated that he would stick to current policies, which include internationally backed sanctions.

      He came under fire Sunday from political opponents after Iran’s official news agency reported that Rocard met with the country’s top nuclear negotiator.