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French, Israeli officials: Heed Iranian protesters

PARIS (JTA) — Israeli and French officials said the world should heed the protests of Iranians who claim the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged.

Whether or not the June 12 election was manipulated, Iranian "public perception" of foul play is a critical signal to the international community, showing "the genuine expressions of the wishes of the Iranian people to see a more open and more just, more democratic Iran," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told reporters Monday night in Paris.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner reiterated that European nations support an investigation into claims that Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory was manipulated.

Massive protests against Ahmadinejad’s disputed victory have led to violence between supporters of challenger Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Iranian militiamen. Seven civilians were killed Monday, according to reports.

Barak also warned that even if Moussavi had won the election, he did not “expect Iran to put an end to its effort” to acquire nuclear weapons.

Following their meeting on a range of Middle East issues, the ministers also praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Sunday policy speech in which he agreed to the eventual creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state.

“I think this vision opens the road for starting negotiations with our neighbors and intensifying the contact with the American administration” toward peace negotiations in the region, said Barak.

Kouchner welcomed Netanyahu’s approval of a future Palestinian state, but said France’s position still remained firm against Jewish settlement growth, and for the establishment of a binational capital in Jerusalem.

 

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