• France's news in English
Hollande in Israel
Hollande vows to take strong line on Iran
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) waves next to French President Francois Hollande following a joint press conference in Jerusalem on November 17, 2013. Photo: Alan Jocard/AFP

Hollande vows to take strong line on Iran

AFP/The Local · 18 Nov 2013, 08:41

Published: 18 Nov 2013 08:41 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France, along with other major powers, took part in last weekend's marathon negotiations in Geneva in a bid to convince Iran to freeze or curb its nuclear activities in exchange for some sanctions relief.

Israel has expressed concern over the talks, warning Western powers against concessions and insisting they will get a better deal if they keep the crippling sanctions in place or even ratchet them up.

The visit, Hollande's first since he became president in 2012, will also see him travelling to the Palestinian territories to discuss Middle East peace talks which have been limping along for three months with little signs of progress.

And with his ratings flatlining in the polls back home, Hollande will also use his three-day trip to try to boost trade with Israel, which stood at €2.3 billion ($3 billion) in 2011.

But even before leaving the tarmac of Israel's Ben Gurion airport for the drive to Jerusalem, Hollande addressed the question of Iran's disputed nuclear programme, which Israel views as its greatest threat.

"France considers nuclear proliferation to be a menace, a danger, and in Iran particularly - a menace to Israel, to the region and clearly a menace to the entire world," he told Israeli ministers and dignitaries lining the red carpet.

"This is why France will not tolerate nuclear proliferation. And for France, as long as we are not certain that Iran has decided to give up on nuclear weapons, we will continue with all our demands and with sanctions."

An 'unflinching stance' on Iran

France has been praised in Israel over the past week for taking a tougher stance than its Western partners in the latest round of talks with Iran in Geneva, which ended last weekend without an agreement.

But with the negotiations due to resume on Wednesday, and talk of a deal in the offing, Israel was expected to pressure Hollande to remain strong.

"We are full of admiration for your unflinching stance to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon for mass destruction," Israeli President Shimon Peres said at the welcoming ceremony.

"We stand, together, against this attempt which hangs as a dark shadow over the skies of the Middle East, in fact over the skies of the entire world."

Israel and Western powers suspect Iran's uranium enrichment programme is part of a covert drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation Tehran vehemently denies.

Addressing Hollande as "my friend Francois," Netanyahu praised the French leader for his "firm stance" against "the unstoppable attempts by Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons."

As part of Netanyahu's campaign to prevent world leaders from handing Iran "the deal of the century" by easing up on sanctions, Netanyahu will fly to Russia on Wednesday for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Story continues below…

And he said he would also discuss the matter with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem on Friday.

"I hope we'll be able to convince our friends this week and in the following days to get a much better deal. It can be achieved," he said in a statement.

"Continuing to apply pressure (on Iran) and even increasing it can yield a much better diplomatic result."

On Monday, the focus will likely switch to the struggling Middle East peace process, as Hollande goes to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Kerry managed to relaunch direct talks between the two sides in July after a nearly three-year hiatus, but the Palestinians have said the negotiations are at risk of breaking down over Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available