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. Retired US general Tommy Franks urges diplomacy for Iran, North Korea
LISBON (AFP) Nov 11, 2004
Retired US general Tommy Franks, who oversaw the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, said Thursday that diplomacy was the best way for Washington to deal with concerns over Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs.

"I don't think it would be helpful for us to say 'Well, they better do this or else, or they better do that or else'. That's not our way," he told reporters here on the sidelines of a conference.

"What we want to do is solve this issue in Iran through diplomacy and I think that is what people are working really hard on now."

"I believe that the answer in North Korea is likely to be found in diplomacy and by continuing to have discussions with the North Koreans," he added.

US President George W. Bush in 2002 dubbed Iran and North Korea alongside pre-war Iraq as members of a global "axis of evil".

US-led forces invaded Iraq one year later amidst claims about Baghdad's alleged nuclear, biological and chemical weapons program, which turned out to be unfounded.

Franks retired as head of US Central Command in August 2003, several months after Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad.

Washington also accuses North Korea and Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons programs and has adopted a hardline stance against both two nations, although it has not threatened military action.

After his re-election earlier this month, Bush said he intends to continue six-party talks with North Korea and would continue to support European efforts to get Iran to back away from developing nuclear weapons before bringing the matter to the UN Security Council.

Washington asserts that North Korea may already have as many as eight nuclear bombs while it accuses Iran of covertly seeking ways to produce the weapon.

Iran says its atomic ambitions are limited to producing electricity from nuclear power reactors.

The United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea have held three rounds of talks with North Korea but Pyongyang declined to attend a previously agreed follow-up meeting in September.

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