French foreign minister Catherine Colonna

France Warns Iran Against Escalating Gaza War Across Region

Friday, 11/17/2023

France's foreign minister said she had told her Iranian counterpart on Thursday that Tehran would bear a heavy responsibility if the conflict in Gaza spreads across the region.

"Meeting today with my Iranian counterpart in the form of a warning: the extension of the current conflict in Gaza would not benefit anyone, and Iran would have a heavy responsibility," Catherine Colonna said after a face-to-face meeting in Geneva with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The conversation was the latest between French and Iranian officials as Paris looks in particular to defuse tensions between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The United States has also reportedly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to use his influence to persuade Iran not to engage in escalation. Iranian-backed militias in the region have launched more than 50 drone and rocket attacks against US troops stationed in Iraq and Syria since the October 7 attack on Israel. The US military has retaliated by launching three air strikes against Iran's Revolutionary Guard targets in eastern Syria.

Ties between France and Iran have also been strained in recent months over what Paris has said are arbitrary arrests of four of its citizens that it says are equivalent to state hostage taking.

"The minister finally called for the immediate release of the four French nationals still arbitrarily detained in Iran and whose situation is extremely worrying," the foreign ministry said in a separate readout of the meeting.

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