French President Francois Hollande assured Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday that Paris would remain "tough" on Iran despite the Islamic Republic's efforts to get sanctions eased against its controversial nuclear program, AFP reported.
Hollande telephoned Netanyahu to give him assurances that France was committed to keeping up pressure on Iran following a media blitz by the prime minister on Thursday in which he warned against succumbing to Iran's charm offensive in a number of interviews to European news outlets.
According to AFP, Hollande told Netanyahu that France would maintain pressure on Iran until Iranian President Hassan Rouhani backed up his diplomatic overtures with actions on the ground.
Netanyahu's interviews on Thursday to media outlets in France, Britain and Germany came ahead of talks between Tehran and the P5+1 group of world powers scheduled to take place next week in Geneva. The P5+1 consists of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France - as well as Germany.
One government official said that Netanyahu felt the need to speak to the European media, and not just European leaders, because the European public has also been the target of Rouhani’s charm offensive.
Netanyahu said of Rouhani’s current diplomatic efforts: “This regime is smiling, and coming and saying, ‘you know what, let me keep enrichment. I’ll make some tactical cosmetic concessions, you reduce the sanctions.’”
But Netanyahu warned that if the sanctions are relieved, the whole sanctions regime will collapse.
“So they’ll get everything, and we – the collective we – will get nothing. If it falls on me to say something that everybody understands, I’ll say it. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Netanyahu said he expects Europe to “do the right thing” and not fall into an Iranian “trap.” His message to the European journalists was similar to his message to US media outlets last week.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.