RIYADH: The French foreign minister on Thursday called for Iran to immediately return to its commitments under an international deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
Jean-Yves Le Drian’s comments came as European powers are waiting to see what steps Joe Biden, the new US president, would take to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehension Plan of Action (JCPOA) after Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord.
Europe wants to save the deal but many in the Arabian Gulf and the West say it empowered Iran to pursue its aggressive foreign policy in the region unchecked.
During a meeting with UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Le Drian called for Iran to reverse its breaches of the deal, including ramping up uranium enrichment way beyond the set limits.
“He (Le Drian) noted that Iran should immediately resume full respect of its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA in order to preserve regional stability and avoid a serious proliferation crisis,” the French foreign ministry said.
Biden’s choice for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday that the US had to work urgently to stop Iran gaining the capability to build a nuclear weapon.
He said a future renegotiated deal could cover Tehran’s missile program and destabilizing activities in the Middle East - two things of particular concern to Gulf countries.
During the meeting, Le Drian and Sheikh Abdullah reviewed talks underway in Egypt to end the conflict in Libya.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they discussed the “means to push the peace process forward, in a way that will contribute to enhancing regional security and stability,” the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
They also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of global vaccine availability.
UAE and French relations date back to the 1970’s and have become increasingly strong in the last 15 years.
They have collaborated on many cultural projects such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to carry the Louvre name outside of France, which opened in 2017.
France also has a military base in Abu Dhabi, its first to be built outside of France or Africa.
The ministers said they would seek to expand the French-Emirati partnership with projects like Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, the UAE branch of the famed French institution.