Iran security agents strike French diplomats: ministry

16th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iranian security agents struck French diplomats in scuffles at a Tehran embassy residence, prompting France to summon Iran's ambassador and complain of "unacceptable violence", officials said Tuesday.

"On November 14, particularly serious incidents took place at the entry to the ambassadorial residence in Tehran," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Its entry was blocked by unidentified security services who proceeded to arrest guests of the French ambassador and carried out unacceptable acts of violence including against French diplomatic personnel," it added.

"French authorities this morning summoned the ambassador of Iran in Paris to express their strongest condemnation of this extremely serious violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations," it said.

French officials said plain-clothes security officers struck at least two French diplomats and arrested guests arriving at the residence of ambassador Bernard Poletti for a concert of Persian music.

The diplomats were struck when they barred the way as agents tried to pursue a woman who rushed into the embassy, but they were not seriously injured, an embassy official said.

Diplomats say similar incidents have happened at the British, Austrian, Dutch and Australian embassies, with agents targeting young Iranians turning up for functions.

Diplomatic norms "impose on the host state a special obligation to take appropriate measures so that diplomatic missions can carry out their work with respect for international agreements that Iran has signed," the French ministry said.

Iranian authorities have accused Western missions of fuelling post-election protests last year.

In February stones were thrown at the French, German and Italian embassies in Tehran by pro-government activists.

Relations between France and Iran have been strained in recent months, with France backing tough new UN sanctions against Iran in June for its nuclear programme and pressing it on the issue of human rights.

In June hundreds protested outside the French embassy against the holding of a rally in France by Iran's main exiled opposition group.

A French academic, Clotilde Reiss, was arrested and held in Iran in July 2009, accused of participating in demonstrations against the disputed outcome of the presidential election. She was released in May.

France has also joined in international opposition to the sentencing of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a woman who faces death by stoning in Iran. It urged the European Union to threaten new sanctions against Iran over the case.

France in August also branded as "unacceptable" insults in the Iranian media against first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also condemned these personal attacks as a "crime".

© 2010 AFP

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