Hours before nuclear negotiations between six major world powers and Iran were set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday, French President François Hollande rejected anti-Israel comments made by Iran’s Supreme Leader and claimed they only complicate the matter at hand.
While speaking to members of a nationalist paramilitary group in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Israel “the rabid dog” of the Middle East that aims to cut down Iran’s reputation. Hollande spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters the French leader thought the name-calling was “unacceptable.” Despite the exchange, she said France—which has adopted a conspicuously tough line on Iran of late—is still hopeful for a nuclear deal.
Khamenei expressed support for the negotiations taking place in Geneva, but insisted Iran had limits to the concessions it would make in return for relief from the sanctions that have strangled its economy. Iranian officials have previously suggested the country could ease its uranium enrichment but have strictly defended its right to make nuclear fuel.