France Rebukes Iran, Libya for Lauding Attacks in Israel

France has canceled a visit by Iran’s deputy foreign minister to protest Tehran’s praise for the recent suicide bombings in Israel.

In addition to the cancellation of Mahmoud Vaezi’s planned visit later this month, French officials summoned the ambassadors of Iran and Libya to “confirm our disapproval of the Iranian and Libyan reactions to the attacks carried out in Israel,” a spokesman said Wednesday.

In Parliament a day earlier, Prime Minister Alain Juppe has warned that there would be “diplomatic consequences” to the two countries’ statements supporting the terror attacks.

Government spokesman Alain Lamassoure said after the weekly Cabinet meeting that France wanted to take diplomatic measures against Iran in coordination with the European Union.

He said Juppe had stressed the need for the E.U.’s 15 member states to practice “criticism as well as dialogue” with Iran.

On Wednesday night, 11 of France’s 32 Cabinet ministers, along with the leaders of all the major political parties, joined 5,000 demonstrators on the streets of Paris to show their support for Middle East peace.

Foreign Minister Herve De Charrette was scheduled to visit Jerusalem to convey the French government’s condolences for the victims of the four suicide bombings, which claimed 57 innocent lives in nine days.

Iran, which has denied financing the activities of the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements, praised the four suicide bombings as “divine retribution.”

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi reacted to the bombings by saying that Palestine was a “tomb for Jews.”

Iranian officials attempted Wednesday to distance themselves from the statements of praise for the attacks, saying that the comments had been issued by the Iranian news agency and Iran Radio, not by the government itself.

France’s latest diplomatic moves came just a week after French Transportation Minister Bernard Pons visited Iran to sign a cooperation agreement on transportation.

The visit triggered a barrage of criticism from Jewish groups, as well as from members of the ruling center-right coalition and the opposition Socialists.

Pons made the trip after authorities in Tehran had applauded the Feb. 25 twin bombings in Jerusalem and Ashkelon that killed 26 innocents.

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