Rare encounter between France’s top ambassador and Iranian counterpart in Beijing


Paris — The foreign ministry of France announced on Friday that the country’s foreign minister had a rare face-to-face meeting with her Iranian counterpart in China and urged Teheran to free French individuals who had been “arbitrarily detained” in Iran.

Catherine Colonna met Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Beijing while she was accompanying President Emmanuel Macron on his state visit to China.

In separate reconciliation negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Beijing, Amir-Abdollohian was in charge of the Iranian delegation.

The reunion was mediated by China last month, demonstrating Beijing’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

According to the French statement, Colonna “reiterated her urgent demand for the immediate release of the six French citizens who Iran is arbitrarily detaining”.

The six are among an estimated 20 Westerners being held as hostages by Iran in an effort to gain concessions, according to activists and Western governments.

The meeting was confirmed by Iran’s foreign ministry, which also stated that “some consular issues were also raised during the meeting”.

The fatal crackdown by Tehran on the protest movement that erupted in September has severely reduced communication between Iran and European nations, notably about the Iranian nuclear programme.

The Iranian nuclear program, regional affairs, and the state of Iran were also major topics of discussion. The minister conveyed France’s worry regarding the Iranian government’s stance on each of these issues, according to the statement.

The foreign ministers of the two nations stressed the importance of continued discussion and respect for one another, according to the Iranian foreign ministry.

After the death in detention of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurd who had been detained for allegedly breaking Iran’s severe dress code for women, the protests against Iran erupted in the middle of September.

In protest-related instances, four individuals have been put to death in what protestors have dubbed “show trials”.

Iran Human Rights (IHR), a Norwegian organization, claims that security forces have murdered at least 537 individuals during the crackdown on the protesters.

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