France in talks on European security initiative in the Gulf

Iran – Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpts)

Paris, 23 July 2019

Q. – London announced on Monday that it wanted to develop a maritime protection mission in the Gulf together with other European nations, in response to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Does France intend to take part, and with what means, specifically?

THE SPOKESPERSON – (...) The situation in the Gulf is very concerning. Freedom of navigation is being challenged there, with the risk not only of hindering trade in that region, which is critical to the world economy, but also of fuelling an escalation of tensions, which is already under way. It is therefore the Iranian authorities’ responsibility to move forward with the release of the Stena Impero and its crew.

It is time to seek concrete solutions in order to begin the necessary de-escalation of tensions.

We are discussing a European initiative with our British and German partners, as well as several other interested partners, to expand our knowledge of the maritime situation through the deployment of appropriate surveillance methods. The purpose is to facilitate the safe passage of ships in the region. This phase should be coordinated by European countries. On the diplomatic front, we also want to create conditions for an inclusive regional dialogue on maritime security.

For us, this initiative is aimed at defusing tensions and facilitating de-escalation. It differs from the American approach of maximum pressure.

It aims to provide a response to an economic and strategic challenge that directly affects European interests. Our initiative should naturally be coordinated with the United States on the operational level.

Q. – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of an international coalition to monitor the situation in the Strait of Hormuz. Is France prepared to join that coalition? Have you already received such a proposal?

THE SPOKESPERSON – I refer you to my previous reply. (...)./.

Iran – Strait of Hormuz/IAEA – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 23 July 2019

I’d like to share your tribute to Professor Amano. He was a respected Director General of the IAEA, for his qualities as a scientist, his probity and his passionate commitment to non-proliferation and compliance with the Vienna agreement.

You also mention the tensions in the Arabian-Persian Gulf; those tensions have been heightened since the American decision to withdraw from the Vienna agreement. They were further heightened by Iran’s decision to breach two significant points of the agreement, which means that today we’re pressing Iran to return to the Vienna agreement, and earlier I met President Rouhani’s special envoy to tell him this.

We must carry out a de-escalation process to reduce the tensions. And in this regard, the momentum was clearly halted by the arrest, the seizure of the Stena Impero, the British vessel you mentioned, which took place last Friday, and we condemn that action, but we’re also seeking greater security in the Persian Gulf sea area. That’s why we’re currently embarking on a European initiative, with the British, with the Germans, to ensure there’s a monitoring and observation mission for maritime security in the Gulf.

And this vision is the opposite of the American initiative, which is a desire to exert maximum pressure to ensure Iran goes back on a number of its objectives. And in this regard, we must go even further and consider together a common security approach in the Gulf, diplomatically; then we’ll really be moving towards de-escalation./.

Seizure of a British vessel by Iran – Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

Paris, 20 July 2019

We were deeply concerned to learn of the seizure of a British vessel by Iranian forces.

Such an action jeopardizes the necessary de-escalation of tensions in the Gulf. We strongly condemn it and express our total solidarity with the United Kingdom.

We call on the Iranian authorities to promptly release the vessel and its crew, and to abide by the principle of freedom of navigation in the Gulf./.

Published on 09/01/2020

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