PARIS — Iranian and French leaders clashed over the French president’s scathing public rebuke of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On Dec. 11, the Iranian foreign minister reportedly protested Nicolas Sarkozy’s “extreme” criticism of Iran’s leaders, along with his refusal to shake hands with or sit at the same table as Ahmadinejad.
During a human rights speech last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy criticized the Iranian president’s past statements about Israel and the Holocaust.
In a Dec. 8 speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Sarkozy said, “I can’t sit at a table – after what the Shoah was, after what the 20th century was – with a man who dared say Israel should be wiped off the map.”
Sarkozy also said France still needs to participate in solving the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. He added that it’s a “shame” that the Iranian people should “be represented by certain leaders” and that they “have to think: who is representing them?”
On Dec. 10, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador to Tehran to warn him “about the repercussion on bilateral relations of any repetition of such ill-considered remarks.”
The French Foreign Ministry stood by Sarkozy’s remarks late last Thursday, but it said discussions between the countries was still necessary.
Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad repeated last week that Israel would “fade away from the earth.”
His latest prediction of Israel’s demise was made during a rally last Friday in Tehran protesting Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
“The crimes being committed by the Zionist regime are happening because it is aware that it has reached the end of the line and will soon fade away from the earth,” the Mehr news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying, in remarks translated by DPA, the German press agency. He also said Israel is losing western support.
Ahmadinejad has said repeatedly that he wishes Israel would disappear.
Israel is blockading Gaza in a bid to end rocket attacks on Israel’s south.