Iran - Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Agnès Von Der Mühll, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs spokeswoman (Paris, July 23, 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?

A – I refer you to the Minister’s remarks to the National Assembly.

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 fueling 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 relevant 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 – U.S. 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?

A – I refer you to my previous reply.

Q – Can you confirm that the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi is visiting Paris? Will he see Le Drian? Macron? What message are you expecting?

A – I refer you once again to the Minister’s remarks to the National Assembly.