France and Iran

Political relations

After a period of limited political dialogue following the contested re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, high-level meetings resumed at the initiative of the new Iranian authorities who took office after the June 2013 presidential election. The French President and then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr François Hollande and Mr Laurent Fabius, met with their Iranian counterparts, Mr Hassan Rouhani and Mr Javad Zarif respectively, on 24 and 25 September 2013. Mr Fabius received his Iranian counterpart during his participation in the 37ᵗʰ UNESCO General Conference on 5 November 2013 and on 16 January 2015.

The Geneva interim agreement (Joint Plan of Action) of 24 November 2013, followed by the conclusion in Iran of the political agreement on the key parameters of the long-term agreement of 2 April 2015, were a first step towards the possibility of restoring a relationship of trust with Iran.

There have been continuous diplomatic relations with Iran, even at the height of political tensions, thanks in part to parliamentary diplomacy. The proper functioning of our diplomatic post has always been a priority in order to ensure that a direct link is maintained between Tehran and Paris.

In January 2016, Hassan Rouhani made a two-day visit to France – the first since 1998. This visit helped restore economic ties and political dialogue between France and Iran. President Rouhani’s visit was followed by that of the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Javad Zarif, on 21 June 2016, before the visit to Tehran of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development in January 2017 to co-chair the first France-Iran Joint Committee.


Visits to Iran

  • Last State visit: Mr Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (October 1974).
  • August 1998: Mr Hubert Vedrine, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • February 2000: Mr Christian Pierret, Minister of State for Industry.
  • November 2001 : Mr Charles Josselin, Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie.
  • April 2003: Mr Dominique de Villepin, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • May 2003: Mr François Loos, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade.
  • October 2003: Mr Dominique de Villepin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, with his German and British counterparts Mr Fischer and Mr Straw.
  • January 2004: Mr Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Minister of Culture.
  • June 2004: Mr François Goulard, Minister of State for Transport and Marine Affairs.
  • May 2005: Mr Xavier Darcos, Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie.
  • September 2015: Mr Stéphane Le Foll, Minister of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, and Mr Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade.
  • April 2016: Mr Alain Vidalies, Minister of State for Transport.
  • September 2016: Mr Claude Bartolone, President of the National Assembly, and Ms Ségolène Royal, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.
  • January 2017: Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
  • March 2017: Mr Michel Sapin, Minister of the Economy and Finance.

Visits to France

  • Last State visit: Mr Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (June 1974).
  • July 1998: Mr Gholamreza Shafei, Minister of Industries and Metals.
  • February 1999: Mr Kamal Kharrazi, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • October 1999: Mr Mohammad Khatami, President of Iran.
  • November 2000 : Mr Hossein Mozaffar, Minister of Education.
  • May 2003: Mr Kamal Kharrazi, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • October 2003: - Mr Ahmad Motamedi, Minister of Communication and Information Technology.
  • January 2004: Mr Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.
  • January 2004: Mr Mohammad Shariatmadari, Minister of Commerce.
  • April 2004: Mr Kamal Kharrazi, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • December 2004: Mr Hossein Marashi, Vice-President of Iran.
  • February 2005: Mr Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.
  • April 2005: Mr Mohammad Khatami, President of Iran.
  • June 2009: Mr Manouchehr Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • November 2012: Mr Hamid Reza Haji-Babai, Minister of Education (UNESCO visit).
  • November 2013: Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr Reza Faraji-Dana, Minister of Science, Research and Technology (UNESCO visit).
  • May 2014: Mr Mahmoud Hodjati, Minister of Agriculture.
  • June 2014: Ms Shahindokht Molaverdi, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs.
  • January 2015: Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • March 2015: Ms Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President and Head of Environmental Protection Organization.
  • June 2015: Mr Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, Minister of Roads and Urban Development.
  • January 2016: Mr Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • June 2016: Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • October 2016: Mr Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, Minister of Industries and Business.

Economic relations

The sanctions adopted against Iran explain the sharp drop in bilateral trade in recent years. Our imports from Iran collapsed between 2011 and 2014 (€44 million in 2014, as against €1.77 billion in 2011). This fall is mostly caused by the cessation of our oil imports from Iran, following the embargo imposed by the European Union in January 2012. Our exports have also fallen considerably: €293 million in 2014 (compared to €1.66 billion in 2011).

Since the entry into force of the Vienna Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the nuclear programme and the resulting lifting of sanctions, trade has picked up significantly between our two countries, driven by our imports of Iranian crude oil. Indeed, our imports shot up 2,000% in 2016 to reach €1.4 billion, 94.5% of which corresponds to renewed purchases of crude alone. Our exports have also risen, to a lesser extent, and stood at €722 million in 2016. This figure should be put into perspective given the statistics from 2007 (€2.5 billion of French exports to Iran). We thus reported a trade deficit of €700 million in 2016.

Educational, cultural, scientific, academic and technical cooperation

Having redirected our cooperation activities during the periods of tension on the nuclear programme, we are currently stepping up our bilateral cooperation in the cultural, educational, scientific and technical fields.

Our cooperation network in Iran includes our Embassy’s Cooperation and Cultural Action Service, the French language centre, the Institut Français de Recherche en Iran (IFRI, French Research Institute in Iran), and the French school of Tehran which is managed under contract with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE).

The priorities of our cooperation policy with Iran are academic cooperation, support for Iranian civil society, and scientific cooperation as characterized by the Gundishapur Hubert Curien Partnership programme Our activities seek in particular to promote study in France by Iranian students and to facilitate long-term relationships between French and Iranian universities and research centres while remaining vigilant as regards non-proliferation.

Updated: 25 April 2017