Iran's defense program has nothing to do with France: Velayati

Aerial view of what is thought to be Iranian base in Israel

At the same time, the defense minister said that "we will not agree to Iranian consolidation in Syria and certainly not to the deployment of missiles directed at Israel".

Tehran denies this and accuses the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of fomenting tensions in the Middle East.

At the same time, representatives from the United Kingdom, France and Germany have been meeting with USA officials to strengthen the Iran nuclear deal ahead of a May 12 deadline for Trump to issue sanctions relief on Iran. They are due to meet again in Italy this month, two European diplomats and an Iranian official said.

"The Iranians are pretty co-operative, but having a positive meeting doesn't mean we'll see any sort of impact in the real world".

Iran's presence in Syria can no longer be dismissed as involvement in its ally's ongoing civil war.

"Most of the gaps can be narrowed with the West ... but it needs goodwill and loads of work", said a senior Iranian official.

Iran won't negotiate over its ballistic missile development until the United States and Europe dismantle their nuclear weapons arsenals, a top Iranian military official said on Saturday.

Last month, Israel shot down an Iranian-drone that had crossed into its airspace, which led to an Israeli attack on a Syrian military base and an Israeli F-16 fighter jet being shot down.

He added, "Defensive preparedness is among basic rights of every nation and no country can decide for us or other states ... which type of missile we can possess."

"In public, they [Iranians] say of course they do not want to accept this", said a senior European Union official. "But we believe there are grounds for progress", said a senior European Union official.

Russian Federation and the other parties to the Iran nuclear deal consider the Islamic Republic compliant and have voiced concerns over Washington's stance.

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