TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Instead of taking “biased” stances that endanger peace and stability in the Middle East, France and other Western nations need to adopt a “realistic” approach that helps soothe tensions in the region, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi says.
“Unfortunately, it seems like France has a one-sided and biased view towards the ongoing crises and humanitarian catastrophes in the Middle East,” Qasemi said on Thursday.
And this view fuels regional conflicts, "whether intentionally or unintentionally,” he added.
The remarks were a direct reaction to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who earlier in the day expressed concern about what he called Iran’s “hegemonic” intentions in the Middle East.
“I’m thinking specifically about Iran’s ballistic program,” Le Drian said during a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir during a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Emphasizing the need for stability and security in the region, Qassemi advised leaders of France and other nations to adopt a “realistic and responsible” approach.
The Iranian official also condemned weapons sales by “trans-regional countries” to Middle Eastern government, saying the deals have only led to “more instability and insecurity” in the region.
Citing Saudi Arabia’s ongoing military aggression against Yemen as an example, Qassemi said the unconditional support had made the Riyadh regime and its regional partners more “insolent” in creating new conflicts.
According to the Control Arms Coalition, France, the world’s fourth weapons exporter, authorized arms licenses worth $18 billion to Saudi Arabia in 2015 -- the year Riyadh launched its military campaign against Yemen -- followed by the United States at $5.9 billion and Britain’s $4 billion.
Le Drian’s visit was an extension of Paris’ role as a self-proclaimed mediator between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, which have come to blows ever since Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s strange resignation during a televised speech from Riyadh earlier this month.
While Saudis and Hariri himself claim that he made the decision on his own, Beirut insists that the PM was forced to step down and is now held in the Saudi capital against his will.
Days after Hariri’s announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron headed to Saudi Arabia to discuss the matter with Saudi officials, including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in a statement on Thursday that Hariri and his family were heading to France before returning to Beirut to make the resignation official.
Le Drian also confirmed the visit in a tweet earlier in the day, after having what he described as a “friendly and trusting meeting” with the Lebanese PM.