France cools Iran spat with new ambassador | News | DW | 06.03.2019
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France cools Iran spat with new ambassador

France and Iran have appointed new ambassadors after both roles were left empty for months. But EU member states are wary of easing diplomatic pressure on Iran, with some taking further measures.

The French government has appointed an ambassador to Iran after the role was left vacant for months following a diplomatic dispute with the Islamic republic, according to a decree published in France's Official Gazette.

The government named veteran diplomat Philippe Thiebaud (pictured), who once represented France at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, as its permanent representative in Iran.

France's AFP news agency reported that Iran had tapped Bahram Ghasemi, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, as its ambassador to France, another post left empty since the summer.

Iran's choice is a controversial one. Ghasemi, who previously served as ambassador to Italy and Spain, had earlier this week credited Lebanese militant group Hezbollah with preventing terrorist groups from reaching Europe. Hezbollah's military wing is considered a terrorist group by the EU.

Read more: US policy spreads gloom in Iran

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EU wary of Iran

France and the wider EU have been at odds with Iran over assassinations and attempted bombings on European soil. EU member states have accused Iranian security services of involvement in the foiled attacks.

On Monday, the Netherlands recalled its ambassador from Tehran "for consultations" following a dispute about Iran's involvement in the assassination of two Iranian-born Dutch citizens in the Netherlands.

Last year, Germany charged an Iranian diplomat with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with an alleged bomb plot against a rally of Iranian exiles in France.

Read more: Opinion: EU taking a stand through legal trading with Iran

'Hostile activities'

Brussels has called for an "immediate end" to Iranian operations on European soil and sanctioned Iran's Ministry for Intelligence and Security for its alleged involvement in the attacks.

Despite those tensions and US pressure to withdraw from a 2015 deal that restricts Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, EU member states have affirmed their commitment to the accord, saying it continues to curb the Islamic republic's nuclear capabilities.

ls/amp (AFP, AP)

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