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Middle East

Macron warns of 'escalation' with Iran after Netanyahu talks

© Philippe Wojazer, AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris on June 5, 2018.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-06-06

French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the risk of an "escalation" in the Iranian nuclear standoff on Tuesday following talks in Paris with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

At a press conference in Paris with the visiting Israeli prime minister, the French leader called on "everyone to stabilise the situation and not give into this escalation which would lead to only one thing: conflict".

While noting that Iran had stepped up the pressure by announcing plans to boost its uranium enrichment capacity, Macron also pointed blame in the direction of US President Donald Trump for unilaterally pulling out of the hard-fought 2015 deal designed to stop Tehran getting a nuclear bomb.

"When you decide to bring an end to a deal on your side, that does not encourage the other party to respect it," he said, calling this "solid common sense".

Macron-Netanyahu talks: 'Nothing unexpected from either man'

Macron stressed he had "no indication" that Iran had breached the terms of the deal, which Trump walked away from last month.

And while he agreed with Netanyahu that the deal had flaws, he added: "If you consider it insufficient but that it's a step forward from what exist before, it's better to keep it."

‘Economic realities’ to kill off Iran deal

Netanyahu’s visit to the French capital is part of a tour to persuade the European signatories – Britain, France and Germany – to follow Washington's lead in scrapping the accord that they signed with Tehran.

The three European states are currently scrambling to save the deal, seeing it as the best chance to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. But Israel argues that Iran has duped the West and plans to use the break from sanctions to build up its financial reserves before returning to its nuclear plans.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said he had not attempted to convince Macron to abandon it. Instead he said he believed Europe would give up on its efforts to save it under pressure from the US, which has threatened sanctions against European countries that continue to do business in Iran.

"I did not ask President Macron to leave the deal. I think that economic realities are going to decide this matter, so it's not what we focused on," he said after talks between the two leaders.

"What we focused on, and what I focused on, is how to stop Iranian aggression in the region," Netanyahu added.

Video: Watch the full press conference

The Israeli prime minister accused Tehran of using the "cash bonanza" from sanctions relief under the deal "not to develop Iran, not to make it more moderate", but to build up its forces in war-torn Syria.

"They want to bring in 80,000 Shiite fighters, from Afghanistan, from Pakistan," he claimed.

"What that will do is spark another religious war, another civil war... and where will the refugees go? They'll go to one place, to here [France] or to Germany or to Europe," he said, repeating a warning he made to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2018-06-05

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