COP26: Iran at the forefront at Bennett’s meetings at the climate conference

GLASGOW – Iran played a prominent role in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s bilateral meetings during the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow on Monday.

Bennett and French President Macron held a one-on-one meeting, where they discussed the challenges in the Middle East, the main of which was Iran’s advanced uranium enrichment in recent months.

France was a party to the 2015 nuclear deal and supports the resumption of negotiations to join it, as does the UK, whose Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with Bennett on Tuesday.

The United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States issued a statement on Saturday criticizing Iran for enriching uranium to a point where there is no longer credible civilian use and indicating a weapons program. However, they asked Iran to return to the negotiating table and US President Joe Biden pledged in the statement to return to and stay in the Iran deal, as long as Iran does the same.

Iran also emerged in Bennett’s meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the UN Climate Conference. Bennett asked Morrison to call for a strong condemnation of Iran at the next meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, scheduled for later this month.

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, arrives for the start of a meeting of the IAEA board of governors in Vienna, Austria, on September 13, 2021 (credit: REUTERS / LEONHARD FOEGER)

The prime minister also said that Australia should designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Australia, like the EU, only banned part of Hezbollah, its External Security Organization, but not the entire Lebanese terror group.

The matter was discussed in Australia’s parliament earlier this year, when a commission recommended outlawing all of Hezbollah, and is expected to resurface in Canberra.

Bennett also promised French President Emmanuel Macron, following allegations that software from Israeli-owned cybersecurity company NSO may have been used to hack Macron’s phone.

The two leaders discussed the matter at their meeting on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow on Monday, and agreed to continue to deal with it quietly, a diplomatic source said.

Bennett and Macron also agreed to move forward and continue to strengthen cooperation between their countries.

    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Glasgow (credit: CHAIM TZACH / GPO) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with French President Emmanuel Macron in Glasgow (credit: CHAIM TZACH / GPO)

In July, a database with thousands of phone numbers allegedly targeted by NSO’s Pegasus software was leaked to various media outlets. Among the numbers was Macron’s personal cell phone, as well as those of several other members of the French cabinet, who may have been targets of Moroccan security services. NSO denies any connection to the list.

Pegasus is sold with permission from the Defense Ministry, and Macron complained to Israel after his name was found on the list. Israel promised to investigate the matter.

Bennett also invited Morrison and his wife to visit Israel. He said Australia is a “great friend and a great supporter” of Israel and said he hopes to strengthen ties between the countries.

The prime minister also met with the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, and with the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández. He spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the room where the leaders made speeches.

On Tuesday, Bennett plans to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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