PARIS (JTA) — Iranian and French leaders clashed over the French president’s scathing public rebuke of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On Thursday, the Iranian foreign minister reportedly protested Nicolas Sarkozy’s "extreme" criticism of Iran’s leaders, along with his refusal to shake hands with or sit at the same table as Ahmadinejad.
During a human rights speech this week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy criticized the Iranian president’s past statements about Israel and the Holocaust.
In a speech Monday commemorating the 60th anniversary of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, Sarkozy said, "I can’t sit at a table — after what the Shoah was, after what the 20th century was — with a man who dared say Israel should to be wiped off the map."
Sarkozy also said France still needs to participate in solving the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. He added that it is a "shame" that the Iranian people should "be represented by certain leaders" and that they "have to think: who is representing them?"
On Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador to warn him "about the repercussion on bilateral relations of any repetition of such ill-considered remarks."
The French Foreign Ministry stood by Sarkozy’s remarks late Thursday afternoon but said discussions between the countries was still necessary.