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Iran daily calls for expulsion of French diplomats

M. François SÉNÉMAUD
French Ambassador to Iran François Sénémaud and Rouhani
An ultraconservative Iranian newspaper called Tuesday for the expulsion of French diplomats from the country, accusing France of expelling an Iranian diplomat on the basis of a "ludicrous accusation".

The Kayhan daily demanded that the Iranian foreign ministry reciprocate "the insolent and vile behavior of France in accusing and expelling our diplomat from its soil."

The newspaper, considered to be the mouthpiece of ultraconservatives in Iran, reported in October that an Iranian diplomat had been expelled by France without saying why.

Neither the Iranian nor the French foreign ministries have denied or confirmed the report.

On Tuesday the paper reported in a front-page article that the diplomat had been expelled on the basis of the "ludicrous accusation of attempting to attack a meeting of the terrorist cult of hypocrites in Paris."

It was referring to the People's Mujahedin Organization, an opposition group in exile that aims to overthrow the Islamic republic in Iran.

Kayhan also blamed France for the arrest of another Iranian diplomat by Germany in July 2018 on suspicion of involvement in the alleged plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris the previous month.

The diplomat, normally based in Vienna, was extradited to Belgium for prosecution.

Kayhan, Iran's second-oldest daily in circulation, is state owned and its managing director and editor in chief Hossein Shariatmadari was personally appointed by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 1993.

Its demand came a day after Iran expelled two Dutch diplomats in retaliation for the Netherlands' expulsion of two Iranian embassy staff in June 2018.

According to the Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok, the Iranian diplomats had been expelled "due to strong indications from (Dutch intelligence) that Iran has been involved in the liquidations on Dutch territory of two Dutch people of Iranian origin."

Kayhan has consistently been opposed to the policy of detente with Western powers pursued by moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

It has ceaselessly attacked the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and cited US President Donald Trump's decision to quit the accord as an example of the futility of dealing with Western powers.
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