According to Iranian state media, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron over phone that France can play a productive role in the Middle East by taking a “realistic and impartial approach”.
The November 21 phone call followed Macron’s last week statement that Tehran should be less aggressive in the region and should clarify its ballistic missile program.
According to Reuters, Rouhani told Macron that Iran was ready to develop its relations with France on all bilateral, regional and international issues based on mutual respect and shared goals. Rouhani mentioned the “adventurism of some inexperienced princes in the region,” meaning the recent controversies surrounding Saudi Arabia, and said France could play a positive role in easing the situation.
“We are against adventurism and creating division in the region and believe that France, by keeping an independent vote and its position in the region, can, with a realistic and impartial approach, have a productive role,” he said.
Rouhani also stressed the importance of maintaining stability in Lebanon in the phone call with Macron: “Hezbollah are a part of the Lebanese people and are incredibly loved in this country. Their weapons are only defensive and are only for use in the face of a potential attack,” he said. “Now we have to try so the Lebanese groups can, with security, have a government that can help advance their country.”
France tried to mediate in a regional crisis that erupted after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced his resignation in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia on November 4, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of underhanded tactics. Iran denied the accusations, while reports came up that Hariri was forced by Saudi Arabia to quit because he was unwilling to confront Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia has denied holding Hariri against his will or that he had been forced to resign. Hariri left Saudi Arabia to visit France last weekend and is expected to return to Lebanon in time for Independence Day celebrations on November 22.