French foreign minister, visiting Iran, defends nuclear deal

PARIS (AP) " France's foreign minister has arrived in Iran's capital for a two-day visit, defending the deal that world power reached with Tehran aimed at curbing Iranian nuclear activities and promising to keep France's doors open to Iranians.

Jean-Marc Ayrault's comments in a statement Monday night appeared to be a veiled response to U.S. President Donald Trump's skepticism toward the Iran nuclear accord and his three-month ban on travelers from Iran and six other Muslim countries.

While in Tehran, Ayrault will meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as other Iranian officials, according to the French Foreign Ministry.

Dozens of executives from French companies are accompanying Ayrault to sign business deals with Iranian clients. It's the first visit by a foreign minister of a world power since the new U.S. administration took office.

In a statement, Ayrault said the nuclear deal is "already bearing fruit" with economic deals and giving new impetus to Franco-Iranian exchanges between business people, students and tourists.

"In the face of all the challenges our world is faced with, France refuses to turn in on itself, or to stigmatize. It is making the choice of international cooperation and multilateralism. Terrorism in particular has no nationality," he wrote.

He also called on Iran to help fight violent Islamic extremism in the region.

In 2015, Ayrault's predecessor, Laurent Fabius, visited Tehran following the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, including the administration of U.S. President Barrack Obama. Iran agreed to cap its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Many officials from European countries have visited Iran since the deal went into effect last year.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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