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Iran rebukes France for Sarkozy remarks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran rebuked France for French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech excoriating Iran’s president for his attacks on Israel.

In a Dec. 8 speech in Paris marking the 60th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, attended also by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Sarkozy reviewed current human rights abusers, including the governments of Zimbabwe, Sudan and Iran.

Sarkozy hinted that he did not agree with the readiness of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as part of a strategy of dissuading Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"I know very well that the Iranian president does not represent the whole center of power and even less, my dear Jimmy Carter, the Iranian people," Sarkozy said. Carter backs Obama’s approach.

"I know very well that we must resolve perhaps the gravest international crisis we face, that of the risk of Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon," Sarkozy continued. "One cannot resolve this crisis without speaking with Iranian interlocutors.

"But I cannot sit, after the Shoah and all it signifies, after the 20th century’s tragedies, at a table with a man who dares say Israel should be wiped from the map. Others will consider, perhaps even the United States, extending their hand" to Ahmadinejad, "but Iranian society must consider: who speaks for it? Who represents it?"

Iran’s deputy foreign minister on Thursday rebuked France’s ambassador for the speech, saying it undermines bilateral relations. The French Foreign Ministry reiterated its position that Ahmadinejad’s hopes for Israel’s destruction were "unacceptable."

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