* France says Iran must abide by terms of deal
* France has lobbied hard for trade deals since deal signed
* Trump said on campaign trail that deal was "worst ever"
By John Irish
TEHRAN, Jan 30 France vowed on Monday to act as
defender of Iran's nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald
Trump has threatened to tear up, but said it was imperative
Tehran abide strictly by the conditions of the accord.
Arriving in the Iranian capital for a two-day visit, French
Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said it was in the "common
interest" that the 2015 accord under which Tehran agreed to curb
its nuclear programme in return for lifted sanctions was obeyed.
During the U.S. election race Trump had branded it "the
worst deal ever negotiated", telling voters he would either rip
it up or seek a better agreement.
"I'm coming as the defender of the accord, but to be
vigilant and explain that they (the Iranians) must be
irreproachable," Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after landing
"We harbour real concerns about the U.S. administration's
attitude towards this agreement," he said.
The deal was brokered by the United States, Russia, China,
Britain, Germany and France. Paris took one of the hardest lines
against Tehran in the negotiations, but has been quick to
restore trade ties.
Major French corporations including planemaker Airbus
, oil major Total and automobile manufacturers
Peugeot and Renault have all signed deals.
Ayrault said that while Tehran had "largely" kept to the
terms of the deal, it had pushed the spirit of the accord over
the past year by carrying out several ballistic missile tests.
"We want this agreement to be respected. It is in the common
interest of the international community that it is," Ayrault
The foreign minister is due to meet Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the powerful
Secretary of Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani.
The visit, which includes an economic conference where some
contracts may be concluded, will provide an opportunity for
talks on Syria. Paris is a vociferous opponent of Iran's backing
of Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad.
"We will discuss our disagreements, notably on Syria. "We
had hoped Iran would be less aggressive in the region," Ayrault
said, referring to the period since the nuclear deal.
On Sunday, Trump spoke by telephone with Saudi Arabia's King
Salman, a close U.S.-ally in the Middle East. A White House
statement said the two leaders agreed on the need to address
"Iran's destabilizing regional activities."
(Editing by Ingrid Melander and Richard Lough)