MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and China expressed alarm on Tuesday over comments by France's foreign minister that Paris should prepare for the prospect of war with Iran, which the West accuses of secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Minister Bernard Kouchner sought, however, to play down his weekend remarks, saying they were meant as a "message of peace".
"I do not want it to be said that I am a warmonger!" he told Le Monde newspaper, days before the five U.N. Security Council permanent members, including Russia and China, and Germany were due to meet to discuss possible new sanctions against Tehran.
"My message was a message of peace, of seriousness and of determination," the paper quoted Kouchner as saying on his plane as he headed to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear at a joint news briefing with Kouchner that his remarks had disturbed a Kremlin, like China, less inclined to sanctions than the West.
"We are worried by reports that there is serious consideration being given to military action in Iran," Lavrov said. "That is a threat to a region where there are already grave problems in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Western powers led by the United States accuse Iran of using a purported nuclear power programme as a screen for development of nuclear arms -- something they fear could add enormously to instability in the already volatile Middle East. They point to Iran's past secrecy over nuclear research as cause for concern.IRAN UNMOVED
ranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an outspoken critic of the West, said Kouchner's comments were meant only for the media. "We do not consider these threats to be serious."
Iran says it seeks nuclear energy only for electricity and condemns U.N. sanctions promoted by the five permanent members -- China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain -- and Germany over its uranium enrichment programme.
Lavrov, signalling its policy at a powers' meeting scheduled for Friday to consider new steps, said Iran should be left to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency before the world considers further sanctions or military action.
"The United States and the European Union are taking tougher anti-Iranian sanctions ... if we agree to work collectively... then what purpose is served by unilateral actions?"
China also condemned Kouchner's weekend remarks.
"We believe the best option is to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations, which is in the common interests of the international community," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a briefing.
"We do not approve of easily resorting to threatening use of force in international affairs," Jiang said.
Kouchner said France had asked French firms not to bid for work in Iran.
"We must prepare for the worst," he said in the weekend interview with RTL radio and LCI television. "The worst, sir, is war." He said, however, that war was not an imminent prospect.http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-29601820070918
I forlængelse heraf:Reuters: Iran says China on side against fresh sanctions