French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says he will visit Iran on March 5 to discuss Tehran’s ballistic-missile program and the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers.
"We have embarked upon a dialogue with Iran on the issue of ballistics and regional questions," Le Drian told the Le Figaro daily in an interview to be published on January 22.
Le Drian canceled a trip to Iran in January following the antigovernment protests that rocked the country over a three-week period.
Le Drian said France "wishes to bring up [Iran's] destabilizing military influence in the Middle East, its financial support for Lebanon's Hizballah and for the Huthi [rebels] in Yemen."
"That is why...I shall go to Iran on March 5," said Le Drian, who will hold talks with his counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Le Drian has previously accused Iran of having "hegemonic" intentions in the region, provoking a countercharge from Tehran that France is taking a "biased and partisan approach to the crises in the region."
In a December 12 television interview, the foreign minister accused Iran of trying to create an "axis" of military and political influence stretching from Tehran through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea.
He called on Tehran to stop interfering in Syria and to stop meddling in the affairs of Lebanon.
In the January 22 interview, Le Drian says a key topic of discuss with Zarif will be the 2015 nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
"If Iran wants to return to the concert of nations, it must cooperate..." Le Drian is quoted as saying. "Otherwise, it will with reason always be suspected of wanting to develop nuclear weapons."
U.S. President Donald Trump on January 12 told Britain, France, and Germany to "fix" what he called "disastrous flaws" in the deal, which was signed under his predecessor, Barack Obama.
The three European allies, along with Russia and China, have urged the United States to remain a part of the agreement.
Iran insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, while the United States and other countries claim it has been trying to develop nuclear weapons.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters