TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – In his first phone call to a Western leader, the new Iranian president on Monday asked his French counterpart to help secure Iran’s “rights” in now-stalled talks to revive the Tehran nuclear deal with world powers.
Ebrahim Raisi, the hard-line cleric and protege of the Iranian Supreme Leader who took office last week, told French President Emmanuel Macron that the United States and the European Union must implement their commitments under the landmark 2015 agreement, the official IRNA news agency reported.
France, alongside the United States, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, was part of the initial 2015 nuclear deal and played a leading role as a ‘intermediate.
“In any negotiation, the rights of the Iranian nation must be secure and guaranteed,” he said, criticizing the United States for abandoning the deal and reimposing crushing sanctions under former President Donald Trump.
Even as tensions mount in the region and Tehran gradually abandons its own commitments under the nuclear deal, Raisi’s remarks signal the new administration’s willingness to return to the table. Parties to the deal have gathered in Vienna in recent months to resurrect the deal, which has put the brakes on Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. The talks ended in June with no date set for their resumption.
Macron, for his part, called on Iran to “quickly resume negotiations in Vienna in order to reach a conclusion and to put an end without delay to all the nuclear activities which it carries out in violation of the agreement”, according to the press release from the French government. .
In the days leading up to Raisi’s inauguration, the region saw a series of escalations, including an explosive-laden drone attack on an Israel-linked vessel off the coast of Oman that killed two operatives of ‘crew. The West blamed Iran for the aggression, although Tehran denied any involvement.
Speaking to Macron, Raisi stressed that Iran “is very serious about security and preserving deterrence in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea”.
The country “regularly faces security breaches,” he added.
On Lebanon, a former French colony where Iran exerts a great influence through its sponsorship of the militant group Hezbollah, Raisi thanked Paris for its support to the country during its historic financial crisis. He said Iran welcomes anything that advances “stability, security and improvement of the economic situation of the Lebanese people.”
Associated Press editor Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.