France’s Hollande, in Israel, vows to stay vigilant on Iran nukes


JERUSALEM (JTA) — France will uphold economic sanctions on Iran as long as necessary, French President Francois Hollande said in Israel.

Hollande arrived in Israel on Sunday — his first trip there since becoming president more than a year ago — for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The meetings come as Western powers are preparing for another round of negotiations with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.

“France considers [Iran] to be a threat to Israel, and it is clearly threatening to the region and the world,” Hollande said upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. “France will not give up or compromise on nuclear proliferation, and as long as we are not completely sure that Iran has given up nuclear weapons, we will continue to maintain our position.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a welcoming ceremony for Hollande that Israel views France as a true friend.

“France, like Israel, aspires to a stable, moderate Middle East in which the peoples live in peace with each other, in security and mutual respect,” Netanyahu said. “You, Mr. President, have taken a resolute stance regarding Syria, and in the face of Iran’s relentless attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which would endanger not just Israel, but regimes and countries throughout the Middle East; it would also endanger France, Europe and the entire world.”

It has been reported that France was the one country that stood in the way of the P5+1 world powers signing an agreement last week in Geneva with Iran. The agreement reportedly would have offered an easing of economic sanctions in return for Iran halting high-level uranium enrichment.

“The citizens of Israel are full of gratitude to France for standing by our side in times of difficulty; we will never forget it,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said during a welcoming ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.



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