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Iran FM warns of war escalation in ‘frank’ talks with French counterpart

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (R) and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says he warned in a meeting with his French counterpart that if the situation in Gaza continues, any possibility is possible, including further expansion of the war.

Amir-Abdollahian had a face-to-face meeting in Geneva with Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Thursday, as part of consultations about the situation in Gaza amid the Israeli invasion of the besieged territory. 

"We had frank, clear and important talks with the French Foreign Minister and made it clear that 'you alongside America cannot only talk about the actions of Hamas'. And we said that, in our opinion, Hamas is a Palestinian liberation movement against the occupation.

"While we have always condemned the killing of women and children everywhere in the world, the silence of America and some Western countries regarding the killing of children and women in Palestine is unbearable," he said.  

“In Geneva, we had a frank and important conversation with French Foreign Minister Colonna regarding the developments in Palestine, bilateral and consular issues and the perspective of relations between Iran and France,” he separately wrote in Persian on X.

“We warned about the consequences of the continuation of war crimes in Gaza. The immediate cessation of genocide in Gaza, the sending of relief aid, and the exchange of civilian prisoners were also emphasized.”

Amir-Abdollahian said the French foreign minister agreed that the war should not be expanded.

"We warned that if the situation continues, any possibility, including further expansion of the scope of the war, is envisaged."

France's foreign minister was quoted as saying that she had told her Iranian counterpart that Tehran had a "heavy responsibility" to prevent the war from spreading across the region. 

France’s top diplomat also said “all measures” had to be taken to protect civilians in the war and that access needed to be guaranteed for humanitarian aid.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas waged the surprise Operation al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli regime's decades-long suppression and devastation against Palestinians. According to the Gaza-based health ministry, Israel has killed 11,500 Palestinians, including 4,630 children and 3,130 women, and injured more than 32,000 others.

US wants China to use influence over Iran

Separately on Thursday, White House spokesman John Kirby said the United States would like China to use its communications lines with Iran to tell Tehran that a wider war in West Asia should be avoided.

“We certainly would encourage them to use those lines to reiterate to the Iranians that we don't want to see a deepening or an escalation of the conflict in the region,” he said at a press conference when asked whether President Joe Biden had received assurances from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that he would urge Iran to stop what Kirby called attacking US forces in Syria and Iraq. 

Iran has strongly rejected the allegations that the country has been involved in the recent series of strikes on US military troops in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

The strikes on US military positions in the two Arab countries come amid rising anti-US sentiment over Washington’s all-out support for the Israeli onslaught on Gaza.

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