France's Macron urges 'firm' stance on Iran
ABU DHABI - French President Emmanuel Macron called for vigilance towards Tehran over its ballistic missile programme and regional activities, in an interview published on Wednesday by Emirati daily Al-Ittihad.
"It is important to remain firm with Iran over its regional activities and its ballistic programme," said Macron, in the United Arab Emirates for a 24-hour official visit, his first to the Middle East as head of state.
But he cautioned against creating a "new front" in a region already fraught with conflicts, including the war in Yemen, where UAE forces are taking part in a Saudi-led coalition.
Escalation would "only heighten tensions and further destabilise the region", Macron said.
His visit comes days after Iran-aligned Huthi rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile at the Saudi capital, sparking a war of words between the regional heavyweights.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Iran of delivering missiles to Yemeni rebels in a "direct military aggression" against the kingdom, while Iran's President Hassan Rouhani countered that Riyadh would achieve nothing by threatening "the might of Iran".
"More than ever, we need a region at peace, with responsible regional actors working for the stability of the Middle East," Macron told Al-Ittihad.
Macron said there was no immediate alternative to the Iranian nuclear deal -- long lambasted by US President Donald Trump -- which curbs Iran's nuclear programme.
On North Korea, he said: "Here is a state where the absence of an international legal framework has allowed it to develop nuclear capabilities.
"We must not repeat that mistake."