France Slams Iranian Leader's 'Unacceptable' Israel Comments
Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's latest controversial comments on Israel are"unacceptable" and "complicate" ongoing negotiations on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, a French government spokeswoman said Wednesday.
"Khamenei's comments are unacceptable and complicate negotiations," Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters.
She was referring to Khamenei's references to the Jewish state earlier Wednesday as being "doomed to collapse", "the rabid dog" of the Middle East, and with leaders "not worthy" of being called "human".
Speaking after President Francois Hollande held his weekly cabinet meeting, Vallaud-Belkacem said that France would continue to be "firm but not closed" at the talks, which kick off Wednesday in Geneva.
The so-called P5+1 group - which includes the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany - are set to try and reach a deal with Iran to freeze or curb its nuclear activities in exchange for some relief from international sanctions.
Israel and the West suspect Iran's program is aimed at developing a weapons capability, but Tehran insists it is entirely peaceful.
The last round of talks with Iran that ended on November 10 came close to a framework agreement, but failed to reach a deal due to French concerns over some of the issues on the table.
Since then, Hollande has visited Israel and pledged that sanctions on Iran will remain in place as long as Paris is not convinced that Tehran has definitively renounced its program.
"We obviously want the negotiations to be successful," said Vallaud-Belkacem. "In some ways, the ball is in Iran's court today."