ANKARA (Reuters) – Iran accused France of fueling tension in the Middle East by taking a “biased” stance on Tehran’s regional policy, state TV reported on Friday.
“It seems that France has a biased view toward the ongoing crises and humanitarian catastrophes in the Middle East Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying.
“This view fuels regional conflicts, whether intentionally or unintentionally,” he said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that France was worried about Iran’s involvement in the Middle East crisis and its disputed ballistic missile program.
“Iran’s role and the different areas where this country operates worries us,” Le Drian told a joint news conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel Jubeir in Riyadh.
“I am thinking in particular of Iran’s interventions in regional crises, this hegemonic temptation and I’m thinking of its ballistic program,” he said.
Iran has repeatedly rejected France’s call for talks on its missile program, saying it was defensive and unrelated to a nuclear agreement with world powers struck in 2015.
Paris suggested that new European Union sanctions against Iran may be discussed over its missile tests. But EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini seemed to dismiss that idea on Tuesday, keen to avoid risks to the hard-won deal that curbed Iran’s nuclear activity.
Shi’ite-dominated Iran and its regional arch-rival Sunni Saudi Arabia, are involved in proxy wars across the region, backing opposite sides in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
Jubeir told Reuters on Thursday that the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran.
Qasemi said Jubeir was repeating baseless claims, the state news agency IRNA reported on Friday.
“Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister’s gestures and his blame game will definitely not reduce the responsibility of this country in undermining the regional stability and security,” Qasemi said.
(Additional reporting by John Iris in Paris,; Writing by Parisa Hafezi, editing by Jon Boyle)