Khamenei Criticizes ‘Inept’ French Stance as Deal Eludes

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said France has been “openly hostile” toward Iran in recent years, taking an “imprudent and inept” stance.

The comments were posted today on the Twitter account of Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, after three days of negotiations between the Iranians and world powers meant to ease the dispute over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. The talks ended in Geneva late yesterday without an accord. The tweets were taken from a speech Khamenei made in March 21 in Iran’s holy city of Mashahd, according to his website.

Efforts faltered after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius insisted any deal include suspension of construction on Iran’s heavy-water reactor in Arak and commitments to reduce its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.

“French officials have been openly hostile toward the Iranian nation over the past few years,” Khamenei said in the tweet. “This is an imprudent and inept move.”

A Western diplomat, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are delicate, said yesterday that the U.S., European Union and Iran had worked for months on a proposal and criticized the French for raising last-minute objections.

‘Neutral Country’

“A wise human being, particularly a wise politician, should never have the motivation to turn a neutral country into an enemy,” Khamenei said in a second tweet today, also extracted from his March speech.

“We have never had problems with France and the French government, neither in the past nor in the present era,” Khamenei said in that speech. Under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, however, France’s government “adopted a policy of opposing the Iranian nation and unfortunately, the current French government is pursuing the same policy.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who headed the Iranian nuclear negotiations team in Geneva and has stayed clear from criticizing the French, voiced a similar concern last week.

French officials were always involved in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program but have taken “a harsher stance” in recent years, Zarif told Iranian Diplomacy, a website run by former diplomats, in an interview published Nov. 8.

“For sure, the U.S. is a major and perhaps the most important player as a state on the international scene,” Zarif said. “Its significance does not mean that speaking with the U.S. eliminates the need for us to talk with other members.”

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