Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said Monday that France made a deal with Tehran last year to secure the release of French hostages held in Lebanon, offering in return to release a Lebanese gunman held in a French prison.
Velayati made the disclosure while speaking to reporters in Tehran after French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas concluded a two-day visit to the Iranian capital and left for Paris.Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Velayati as saying, "During the previous talks between Tehran and Paris, Iran had promised to try and secure the release of French hostages in Lebanon, and in return France had made some promises for pardoning (Anis Naccache)."
Anis Naccache, jailed in France for nine years after the attempted assassination in Paris of former Iranian Premier Shahpour Bakhtiar, recently claimed France had promised to release him in exchange for Iranian help in securing the release of French hostages.
Embarrassed French government officials did not comment on Naccache's claim, and Velayati's statement about the case was the first official confirmation of a deal.
The French Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on Velayati's statement.
France resumed diplomatic ties with Iran last year.