Iran nuke issue: France wants India to convince Tehran to join negotiations

Francois Hollande

France, a key player in the P5+1 talks with Iran on its contentious nuclear programme, today asked India to "convince" its "close friend" Tehran to enter into serious negotiations and respect international obligations with regard to nuclear non-proliferation.

French President Francois Hollande also extended an olive branch to Iran during a public lecture here, saying the people of France also consider them as "friends" and urged the oil-rich nation to fulfil its obligations.

Calling India a "power of peace", Hollande strongly pitched for the country getting a full-fledged membership at the United Nations Security Council while observing that the security of the world needs India's presence.

Delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture to a distinguished audience at the Nehru Memorial Library here, he lavished praise on Indian democracy, its secularism and its "most popular" cinema which is celebrating its 100th year.

In his 25-minute speech during which he spoke at length about international and domestic issues, the French President asked India to use its friendship and influence with Iran to bring it to negotiating table on its controversial nuclear programme.

"We know India and its people are close to Iran and North Korea. It is all the more important that India convinces this great country of Iran to enter into a serious negotiations to respect international obligations and nuclear non-proliferation," he told the audience.

Observing that India is concerned about the future of Afghanistan after 2014 when NATO forces would leave, Hollande said Afghans themselves should decide about their future and in this context asked Pakistan to fulfil its commitment to accomplish the objective.

Lauding India's role in international fora, Hollande spoke good of New Delhi's policy of resolving all its disputes through peaceful means and not responding to "provocative actions" thereby avoiding conflicts.

"Today we ask for India to be a full-fledged member of the United Nations Security Council to reflect the current realities. We ask because 17 per cent of humanity is here. We ask because the security of the world needs India's presence and we ask because India is a power of peace," he said to a rousing reception from the audience.

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