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Paris demands ‘immediate release’ of French nationals detained in Iran

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France’s foreign ministry on Thursday demanded the “immediate release” of two French nationals detained in Iran, a day after Tehran’s intelligence ministry said it arrested two Europeans for attempting to “destabilise” the country.

“The French government condemns this baseless arrest. It calls for the immediate release of these two French nationals,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said France’s ambassador in Tehran had approached Iranian authorities to obtain consular access, adding that it had summoned Iran’s representative in Paris.

The move came a day after Iran‘s intelligence ministry announced that two European nationals had been arrested for attempting to “destabilise” the country.

The pair were accused of “organising chaos and social disorder aimed at destabilising (Iran)” in conjunction with foreign intelligence services, Iranian state TV cited the ministry as saying, without revealing their nationalities.

Earlier on Thursday, a French teachers’ union said one of its members had gone missing while on holiday in Iran with her partner.

Christophe Lalande, federal secretary of the FNEC FP-FO union, said he had no news from his staffer, who was due back in France earlier this week.

“We cannot be certain, but there is a strong presumption that she was detained in Iran while holidaying in the country during the Easter break,” Lalande told Reuters.

Nuclear talks on hold

News of the arrests on Wednesday coincided with a visit to Tehran by the European Union’s Iran nuclear talks coordinator Enrique Mora, who held talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Bagheri Kani, according to Iranian media.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tehran wanted US sanctions lifted “with the observance of Iran’s red lines”. “Negotiations are pursued … to reach a good, strong and lasting agreement,” he said on Twitter.

Presiding over an economy crippled by the US sanctions, Iran’s clerical establishment has faced near-continuous protests by workers, teachers and government employees in recent months over unpaid wages, high unemployment, inflation exceeding 40% and mismanagement.

Talks to revive the 2015 accord have been on hold since March, chiefly over Iran’s insistence on Washington removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Tehran’s elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.

Then-US President Donald Trump ditched the pact in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, prompting Tehran to retaliate by gradually violating the deal’s nuclear curbs.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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