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. EU presidency rejects talk of military strikes on Iran
BRUSSELS (AFP) Nov 04, 2004
The European Union's Dutch presidency dismissed Thursday speculation about a US military strike on Iran to force the Islamic republic to abandon its nuclear drive.

Referring to suggestions that some in the United States wanted to attack Iran, labelled part of an "axis of evil" by the re-elected President George W. Bush, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said "not all people in Washington" endorsed this.

"I don't think we're thinking of military strikes. I think that would be counter-productive," he told reporters shortly before the start of a two-day EU summit that will debate Iran among other international headaches.

Ahead of fresh talks on the nuclear issue between Iran and the EU in Paris on Friday, Bot said the EU had "clear indications" that the Iranian government wants to pursue dialogue.

"It is more helpful to continue the dialogue and to convince the Iranians that there are other means if you want to have a nuclear programme," he said, noting a Russian offer of enriched uranium for peaceful atomic energy in Iran.

But the Dutch minister added: "Of course we cannot wait interminably."

Earlier Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was "inconceivable" that the United States would attack Iran over its nuclear programme and that the world would back such action.

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