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French Statement on Possible Iran War Raises Diplomatic Concern


A statement by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner about the possible use of force against Iran has raised concern in Russia and China. During a meeting Tuesday with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, Kouchner clarified his controversial remark. VOA correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports from the Russian capital.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's statement on Sunday about possible war with Iran was the focus of attention during his visit to Moscow Tuesday. Speaking after meeting with Kouchner, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he is worried by reports of serious consideration being given to military action against Iran.

Lavrov says that Russia is convinced that no modern problem has a military solution, and that applies to the Iranian nuclear program as well.

News reports initially quoted Kouchner as saying the world should prepare for the possibility of war against Iran, if negotiations fail. The top French diplomat said in Moscow on Tuesday that he was misquoted in response to a reporter's question about what would be the worst outcome with Iran.

Kouchner says he shares the belief that everything must be done to avoid war. He says the second sentence of his response on Sunday, which media may not have quoted, was that we have to, in his words, "negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate, without let-up."

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the U.S. administration believes there is a diplomatic solution to the Iran problem. Perino said the United States is working with the French and the European Union to pressure Iran to comply with its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

China, a permanent member of the Security Council, has expressed opposition to what that country's foreign ministry called "the unbridled threat of using force in international affairs."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday dismissed the French statement, saying it was a comment for the media that should not be taken seriously.

The United States and other western countries say Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program disguised as a civilian energy project. Tehran's refusal to stop uranium enrichment has prompted Washington and its allies to seek Security Council approval for a third set of sanctions against Iran. Highly enriched uranium can be used to build an atomic bomb.

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