Last updated: 20 November, 2013

France says Iran must not provoke but give answers

France’s President Francois Hollande urged Iran on Wednesday to “provide answers and not provocations” over its disputed nuclear programme, after the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed not to retreat “one step” from Iran’s rights.

“It is clear that Khamenei’s proposals could not lead to calm and understanding. Iran must provide answers and not provocations,” Hollande said during a press conference at the close of a Franco-Italian summit in Rome.

World powers and Iran met Wednesday for a third round of talks since June to reach a landmark nuclear deal, but Khamenei’s controversial comments threatened to complicate diplomatic efforts.

“I insist on not retreating one step from the rights of the Iranian nation,” he said.

“I am not interfering in the details of these negotiations but there are red lines and limits that must be respected.”

France said the comments would “complicate” matters, but vowed to continue to be “firm but not closed” at the Geneva talks.

The last round of talks with Iran that ended on November 10 came tantalisingly close to a framework agreement, but failed to reach a deal due to French concerns over some of the issues on the table.