TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran summoned France’s ambassador to protest about what it said were “inappropriate remarks” by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, state media said on Thursday.
Sarkozy, an outspoken critic of Iran since coming to office last year, said on Monday he could not shake hands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying Israel should be “wiped off the map”. He also said Ahmadinejad did not represent Iran.
Iran’s state television said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari referred to the “interfering comments” by Sarkozy in his meeting with France’s ambassador, Bernard Poletti.
Safari said the French president’s remarks “violated diplomatic manners” and he also “warned about repeating such inappropriate remarks and their impact on future relations of the two countries,” the official IRNA news agency reported.
Safari was reacting to a speech Sarkozy gave to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “How is it that a people such as the Iranian people — one of the world’s greatest peoples, one of the world’s oldest civilisations, sophisticated, cultured, open — have the misfortune of being represented as they are today by some of their leaders?” Sarkozy said.
“I find it impossible to shake hands with somebody who has dared to say that Israel must be wiped off the map,” he said. “I know perfectly well the Iranian President does not represent the entire Iranian government, and even less … the Iranian population,” Sarkozy added.
The French envoy was also summoned in February to complain about what Tehran said was the “unfriendly” position of Paris over Iran’s nuclear work.
France and several other Western countries accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb, a charge Tehran denies. Iran, the world’s fourth biggest oil producer, says it wants nuclear technology to generate electricity.
France and other world powers have voted in the U.N. Security Council to impose three sets of sanctions on Iran since 2006 for not halting its nuclear work.