In Iran, France blends hard talks with soft power at Louvre exhibit

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After a day of tough talking in Tehran on Monday, France’s foreign minister and one of Iran’s vice presidents ambled through the halls of the National Museum of Iran to admire a collection of artworks on loan from the Louvre in Paris.

Relations between Iran and France have grown fraught of late, rattled by the uncertain future of the Iran nuclear accord and French concerns over Tehran’s ballistic missile tests and military activities in the Middle East.

But President Emmanuel Macron’s government hopes the soft power of cultural diplomacy can help strengthen bilateral ties.

“In the turbulent ocean of international diplomacy, cultural diplomacy is a beacon we must keep alight,” French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian told a large audience at an event sponsored by French oil giant Total.


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