Iran General NewsBlair hails UN chief's Iran rebuke

Blair hails UN chief’s Iran rebuke

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Press Association: Prime Minister Tony Blair has applauded United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for rebuking Iran over its president’s call to “wipe Israel off the map”. Press Association

Prime Minister Tony Blair has applauded United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for rebuking Iran over its president’s call to “wipe Israel off the map”.

In a rare condemnation of a UN member state, on Thursday night Mr Annan expressed “dismay” over the remarks made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Secretary General said he would make peace in the Middle East the centrepiece of an upcoming visit to Tehran.

Mr Blair’s official spokesman said talks were under way at the UN over what action might be taken over Iran, and said he would not be surprised if the issue were discussed at Security Council level.

Britain was in “active touch” with allies, including the US, over Iran and had “no experience of people not being focused on the issue”, he said.

At a regular briefing of journalists in London, Mr Blair’s spokesman declined to be drawn on the prospect of eventual military action, insisting that the matter was being dealt with by diplomatic channels.

But he warned: “The danger is that Iran thinks that the rest of the world is diverted in some way from what it is doing and that it makes the wrong decision based on that view.

“As the Prime Minister said (on Thursday), the world is not diverted. The response of other world leaders and the UN has underlined that point.”

On Thursday Mr Blair voiced his horror at Mr Ahmadinejad’s comments in the strongest terms, at the end of a European Union summit at Hampton Court, Surrey, during which leaders of the 25-nation bloc issued a joint condemnation of them.

The Prime Minister said he was revolted by the “completely and totally unacceptable” remarks and said they risked persuading people that Iran was a risk to global security.

His spokesman has stressed the situation should not be seen as a confrontation between Britain and Iran, or between the UK and US allies and Iran. Other world leaders, including France’s President Jacques Chirac, had also expressed their deep concern, he said.

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