French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has apologized to his Iranian counterpart over a media “misportrayal” of his recent warning about bracing for war with Iran over its nuclear program. In Paris, a French foreign ministry official said Kouchner and Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki had held a “very substantial encounter” Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.
Their discussions “allowed the two countries’ positions on the Iranian nuclear question to be set out in a very clear fashion,” he said.
IRNA quoted Iran’s foreign ministry as saying the “French foreign minister in his meeting with the Iranian foreign minister … apologized that the media have unrealistically portrayed his comments.”
At the United Nations on Thursday, Kouchner clarified his remarks to his Iranian counterpart.
“I told him that when I’d used the word ‘war’ it was to speak about avoiding it,” Kouchner said.
“It was not a statement urging ‘let’s-go-to-war,'” he said.
Iran rejects Western charges that it is trying to build atomic weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear program and insists it is entitled to pursue uranium enrichment as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are discussing further possible sanctions against Iran after two rounds have failed to force it to stop enrichment.
“We support negotiations between Iran and (International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed) ElBaradei. The US does not give such support to the current cooperation between Iran and ElBaradei,” IRNA quoted Kouchner as saying earlier Thursday.
“Iran is a great country and we have never been seeking war and we have always sought peace. I emphasize again that the diplomatic path is the only way of solving this dossier.”
Mottaki said “all sides should support the new round of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA. Currently the nuclear case is in the right place.”
On September 16, Kouchner was quoted as saying, “We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.