Hollande: I will always remain a friend of Israel
French president promised Sunday to take a tough stance toward Iran and said his country will not tolerate the proliferation of nuclear arms as he began a three-day visit to Israel.
“France will not tolerate nuclear proliferation,” Agence France-Presse quoted President Francois Hollande as saying in a speech on the red carpet shortly after landing at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.
“As long as we are not certain that Iran has decided to give up on nuclear weapons, we will continue with all our demands and with sanctions,” Hollande added.
Israel and Western powers suspect Iran’s uranium enrichment program is part of a covert drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation Tehran vehemently denies.
Hollande’s vowing a tougher position on a nuclear Iran was sure to be welcomed by his Israeli hosts, who have voiced concerns that an emerging deal with global powers gives Iran too much without getting enough in return, according to the Associated Press.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned a proposal, to be discussed in a third round of talks between six world powers and Tehran on Nov. 20-23, to ease economic sanctions on Iran if it suspends parts of its nuclear program.
France is a member of the six global powers conducting negotiations with Iran.
“When France defends its positions in the discussions under way, it of course takes into account the issues which you have explained but it is also with an awareness of what is at stake for the planet,” AFP quoted the French president as saying.
“France considers nuclear proliferation to be a menace, a danger, and in Iran particularly a menace to Israel, to the region and clearly a menace to the entire world,” he added.
At the airport ceremony, attended by Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres, Hollande said France was taking Israel’s concerns into account.
“I will always remain a friend of Israel,” Reuters quoted Hollande as saying in Hebrew