PARIS (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed France on Friday not to weaken in its stance toward Iran in upcoming talks on the Islamic state’s nuclear program, days before President Francois Hollande is due to visit Israel.
Iran has accused France of blocking agreement last week at talks between Tehran and six world powers in Geneva. Iran is seeking relief from international sanctions, while the six demand curbs in its nuclear activities, including enrichment of uranium.
Hollande travels to Israel on Tuesday for the first time since his election 18 months ago, a visit aides say will focus on the next round of talks in Geneva starting on Wednesday.
“We hope that France will not weaken,” Netanyahu told Le Figaro daily in an interview. “We salute (Hollande‘s) consistent and determined position on the Iranian issue.”
Netanyahu reiterated his government’s opposition to Iran pursuing any research that could lead to the development of a nuclear weapon, saying it should not possess heavy water reactors or centrifuges used to enrich radioactive material. Tehran says it wants nuclear energy for electricity, not bombs.
Hollande has opposed lifting any economic sanctions on Iran until it provides further guarantees. He is also due to tell Netanyahu that he opposes the further building of Israeli settler homes in the occupied West Bank, Hollande’s aides said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the construction of new homes on disputed land that Palestinians want as part of a future state, and pressed Israel and the Palestinian Authority to strike a lasting peace accord.
“It is not the construction of homes that is preventing peace,” Netanyahu told Le Figaro. “It is a problem that must be solved, but it is not the cause of the conflict.”
Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Mark Trevelyan