Macron ‘awaiting explanation’ from Iran on who ordered France bomb plot

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the audience as he visits the Station F startup campus in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 13 October 2018

Macron ‘awaiting explanation’ from Iran on who ordered France bomb plot

  • France’s foreign ministry said on Oct. 2 there was no doubt the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the June plot
  • The plot targeted a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside Paris

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday it was not clear whether a foiled attack on a Paris-based Iranian opposition group was ordered by the higher echelons of authorities in Tehran.
“As you know Iran is sometimes divided into different factions and tensions, and so I can’t say today whether the order came from the top or from this (security) service or that division,” he told France 24 television in an interview.
France’s foreign ministry said on Oct. 2 there was no doubt the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the June plot and froze assets belonging to Tehran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals.
The plot targeted a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside Paris. US President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally.
Belgium charged an Iranian diplomat and three other individuals on Oct. 10 with planning to bomb the meeting. Two of the suspects were intercepted by Belgian police.
One senior French official told Reuters the plot is likely to have been hatched by hard-liners looking to undermine President Hassan Rouhani, who has tried to improve Iran’s relations with the outside world.
Macron said he was still awaiting explanations, but that Rouhani had not given him any during two exchanges he had with the Iranian president.
The hardening of relations between Paris and Tehran could have far-reaching consequences for Rouhani’s government, which is looking to European capitals to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out and reimposed tough sanctions.
Macron repeated that there should be a more demanding policy toward Iran which needed to include keeping the existing deal, discussing its nuclear work after 2025 when parts of the agreement expire, its ballistic missile program and curtailing its regional influence.
“I’ve never been naive with Iran or thought it would be easy,” Macron said.


Tunisians emerge from lockdown into mosques and cafes

Updated 33 min 34 sec ago

Tunisians emerge from lockdown into mosques and cafes

  • Schools will stay closed to most students until the start of the new academic year in September
  • The government still restricts social gatherings at homes and urges the wearing of masks

TUNIS: Tunisians returned to mosques and cafes on Thursday as the country ended most lockdown restrictions after largely containing the spread of the novel coronavirus for now.
Sitting with friends at the Brazil coffeeshop in the Ibn Khaldoun district of Tunis, schoolteacher Nizar Jamal said he was glad to resume his daily chats with friends.
“We are again breathing the air of life. We missed the smell of coffee a lot,” he said.
Tunisia in March closed its international borders, stopped all movement between towns and cities, shuttered mosques, shops, schools, cafes and restaurants, imposed a nightly curfew and stopped people leaving homes at day for most reasons.
It has recorded 1,048 cases of the coronavirus and 48 deaths, compared with nearly 10,000 cases in neighboring Algeria. The only recent cases came from people arriving into quarantine from abroad.
Schools will stay closed to most students until the start of the new academic year in September and the government still restricts social gatherings at homes and urges the wearing of masks. International borders will reopen fully in late June.
In another Tunis district, Menzah 9, a cafe owner who gave only his first name, Mahmoud, said he was relieved to have reopened.
“This cafe provides work for 20 families. We have suffered a lot from stopping work for three months and we hope to make up for it soon,” he said.
Tunisia’s government has announced compensation measures to help businesses and needy families with the economic effects of the lockdown and has agreed a package of financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.