French Foreign Minister postpones Iran trip

French President Emmanuel Macron urges Iranian counterpart to show restraint, as Foreign Minister postpones schedule trip to Tehran.

Ben Ariel ,

Jean-Yves Le Drian
Jean-Yves Le Drian

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has postponed his trip to Tehran, which was planned for later this week, to a future date, the French presidency said Tuesday evening, according to Reuters.

The decision came amid the ongoing protests in Iran.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in a phone call on Tuesday to show restraint in dealing with protests, Macron’s office said in a statement.

The statement said Macron had expressed his concern to Rouhani over the number of casualties in the six-day-old protests, and told him that freedom of speech and protest must be respected.

AFP reported that Rouhani had phoned his French counterpart to demand action against a "terrorist" Iranian opposition group he accused of fomenting recent protests.

"We criticize the fact that a terrorist group has a base in France and acts against the Iranian people... and we await action from the French government against this terrorist group," Rouhani was quoted as having told Macron, referring to an exiled Iranian opposition group based in Paris and called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.

Iranian authorities accuse the group, which the regime describes as "hypocrites", of fuelling the unrest rocking the Islamic Republic and of links with regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia.

General Rassul Sanairad, a political deputy to the head of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, claimed on Tuesday the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq had been instructed by the Saudi rulers and some European states to "create insecurity" in Iran.

Since last Thursday, thousands of Iranian civilians have taken to the streets to protest against Rouhani’s government and the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The uprising, the largest since a series of mass protests in 2009, began in the city of Mashhad, when demonstrators denounced President Rouhani over the failure to reduce the country’s high unemployment rates.

According to some reports, as many as 13 people were killed by Iranian security forces over the weekend in protests across the country. The Associated Press confirmed 12 of the 13 reported deaths.