Iran hits out at France over UAE military base

Summons French envoy in tit-for-tat protest


Iran criticized France on Sunday for adopting an "unfriendly" position in Tehran's nuclear row with the West and setting up a military base in the Gulf which it said would harm peace in the oil-rich region.

The Islamic republic summoned the French ambassador to Tehran after a similar move by Paris two days ago over a new anti-Israeli tirade by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state media reported.

"So far, our policies regarding France and their unfriendly stances have been restrained, but if they continue this trend we will also review our stances," the spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, told a news conference.

The French move on Friday came amid increasingly frosty relations between Tehran and Paris and followed remarks last week by Ahmadinejad who reportedly said the days of the "filthy Zionist entity" were numbered.

Referring to Israel, Hosseini said France was "ignoring the Zionist regime's crimes" against Palestinians: "We will surely express our objections by summoning the French ambassador."

The state broadcaster's website said Iran had summoned French ambassador Bernard Poletti to protest at "France's dual policies regarding Iran's peaceful nuclear activities and the Zionist crimes in Palestine."

France is among world powers trying to exert diplomatic pressure on Iran to halt atomic work they fear is aimed at making bombs and it has stepped up its rhetoric against Tehran since President Nicolas Sarkozy took office last May.

Iran says its nuclear program is a peaceful drive to generate electricity.
France and Iran share commercial ties but relations took a turn for the worse after France's foreign minister in September said the world should prepare for a war with Iran.

Hosseini also criticized a deal Paris signed with the United Arab Emirates to build France's first permanent military installation in the Gulf, just across the water from Iran. The base, housing 400 to 500 personnel, will keep France within reach of sea lanes through which over a third of global oil shipments pass.

The French Defense Ministry on Jan. 31 said forces from France, the UAE and Qatar would hold their first joint war games in the Gulf later this month.

"We are against any kind of increase in the military presence of foreign forces in the region," Hosseini said in comments carried by Iran's Press TV. "We do believe that such a presence is not conducive to the security and peace in the region."