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Egyptian, French Presidents Call for Diplomacy on Iran


The presidents of Egypt and France are urging other nations to pursue diplomatic rather than military solutions to the nuclear standoff with Iran. After meeting in Cairo, they warned that the use of force could destabilize the region and the world.

French President Jacques Chirac said the door remains open for Iran to resume talks over its nuclear program if it comes in line with requests from the United Nations. "We have to explore all diplomatic possibilities in order to avoid a destabilization of the Middle East," he said.

Mr. Chirac's host in Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, shared the same concern. "This question must be resolved through diplomatic and political means, averting military operations, which would have dangerous repercussions in the region and the world," he said.

The two leaders spoke to reporters after meeting in Cairo on the first day of the French president's two-day visit to Egypt.

Iran's controversial nuclear program topped the agenda at the wide-ranging talks. The other main topic was Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The European Union has been a major donor to Palestinian government, but the United States and the E.U. have suspended aid because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

Mr. Chirac said world leaders should find ways of continuing aid to the Palestinian people, while keeping the pressure on Hamas to change its more radical views.

Mr. Chirac says, It is unjust and politically clumsy to make the Palestinian population pay for what we are asking.

The two heads of state also discussed the crisis in the Sudanese region of Darfur, as well as the ongoing tensions between Lebanon and Syria. Mr. Chirac said he backs full sovereignty for Lebanon, and he called for continued investigations into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

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