French military presence in the Gulf "not helpful" - Iran

Other News Materials 3 February 2008 14:00 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Iran's Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that a French military base in the Persian Gulf would not be helpful for security and stability in the region.

France and the United Arab Emirates agreed in January on the establishment of the first permanent French military base in the port of Abu Dhabi, across the Gulf from Iran, by the year 2009.

"We are opposed to the military presence of foreigners in the region because we believe their military presence would not only not help the regional security but it would be the cause of instability in the region," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

The base, which will hold 400 to 500 French soldiers from every branch of the military, will give France a toehold near the Strait of Hormuz through which some 40 per cent of the world's oil is transported.

The memorandum, which was signed during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Abu Dhabi, will give France a more important role in the politically sensitive region.

"The presence of foreigners might encourage regional countries to provide bases for other countries so it will make the situation more complicated," Hosseini said.

Sarkozy and other senior French officials have established a hard line against Iran's uranium enrichment programme, going so far as to say that it could lead to a military conflict.