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Rice to Meet With French Foreign Minister for Talks on Iran, Kosovo, Darfur


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner Friday at the State Department for talks expected to include such issues as Iran, Kosovo and Sudan's Darfur region.

Kouchner, who is on a two-day official visit to Washington, Thursday sought to clarify his statements on Iran during a speech organized by Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies. Pacifists in the audience interrupted his talk several times over his recent controversial statement that the world should be prepared for war with Iran.

He said his words were taken out of context and that he is in favor of a peaceful resolution of the impasse with Tehran.

The United States and its allies say Iran's nuclear enrichment program is aimed at building nuclear weapons. Tehran says it is for civilian purposes only.

Kouchner also defended French opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, saying France was not the only European country opposed to it but that now is the time to join forces to help the Iraqis solve their situation.

On other issues, Kouchner said the European Union's foreign policy was formed in the Balkans and the bloc cannot allow it to fail there.

A European Union envoy is among mediators in talks between Serbia and leaders of the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo on the future of that province. The Albanians insist on complete independence. Serbia is offering broad autonomy, but refuses to relinquish its territory.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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