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French President Considers Sending High-Ranking Envoy to Iran

The government of France says it may send an envoy to Iran for talks on the Middle East, including the situation in Lebanon.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, said Tuesday that President Jacques Chirac is considering sending an official to Tehran. But the spokesman said the government has not made a final decision yet.

The ministry was reacting to an article in the French daily Le Monde that says President Chirac wishes to put "diplomatic feelers" out to Iran. The article says Mr. Chirac wants to send Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy or another high-ranking envoy to the nation.

Le Monde quotes the aides of President Chirac as saying that the aim of a dialogue with Iran would be to re-state the French position on regional issues, including Lebanon and Israel's right to exist.

France supports the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora in Lebanon. The Iranian-backed Shi'ite militant group, Hezbollah, threatens to topple it.

President Chirac is to host an international conference on Lebanon January 25 in Paris.

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