PARIS — The French government spokeswoman says President Francois Hollande believes comments by Iran’s supreme leader about Israel are “unacceptable” and complicate talks between world powers and the Islamic regime over its nuclear program.
French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters that Hollande’s cabinet discussed the Iran nuclear dossier just hours before negotiations between Iran and six world powers were set to resume in Geneva.
She said, however, that France still hopes for a deal and its position has not changed in the talks.
Hollande was referring to comments attributed earlier to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking to a gathering of the Basij force, which is controlled by Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.
In them, the Iranian leader referred to Israel — “the Zionist regime” — as “the rabid dog of the region.”
Speaking to some 50,000 members of the paramilitary volunteer militia, Khamenei said Israel was ripe for collapse.
“The (Israeli) Zionist regime is a regime whose pillars are extremely shaky and is doomed to collapse,” he said, according to French news agency AFP. “Any phenomenon that is created by force cannot endure.”
Khamenei also said Europe felt pressed to make concessions to the Zionists “because of their economic network.” He said Israelis “should not be called humans,” according to a Channel 2 translation of his comments.
Speaking to some 50,000 members of a paramilitary militia, Khamenei also said Israel would disappear. “The Zionist regime is a regime whose pillars are extremely shaky and is doomed to collapse,” he said, according to French news agency AFP. “Any phenomenon that is created by force cannot endure.”
TV footage showed the crowd shouting, “Death to Israel.”
British Foreign Minister William Hague said Wednesday that an agreement with Iran was attainable, and added that signing such a deal would be in the best interest of countries throughout the Middle East.
“The differences that remain between the parties are narrow and I believe they can be bridged with political will and commitment,” Hague said during a visit to Istanbul.
“It is the best chance for a long time to make progress on one of the gravest problems in foreign policy.”
Hague declined to comment on Khamenei’s statements, and called instead to focus on the “substance” of the talks.