Italy concerned about EU sanctions on Iran

Iran Materials 5 October 2007 14:26 (UTC +04:00)

( Xinhua ) - European Union (EU) sanctions to discourage Iran from pursuing its nuclear program would influence Italy more than other EU countries, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said.

D'Alema's remarks Thursday came one day after French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called on the EU to take the lead in widening financial sanctions on Iran, saying the world could not afford to wait for the United Nations to act.

Italy is Iran's biggest European trading partner and in 2006 the trade between the two countries was worth 5.2 billion euros ($7.3 billion).

The EU as a whole accounted for 37 percent of Iran's foreign trade in the same year, according to Italian News Agency ANSA.

Asked about a French call for EU sanctions, D'Alema reiterated Italy's view that such an action is more effective if decided by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

'The concept of effectiveness must be placed at the centre of the debate so that it doesn't turn into tough-talking propaganda,' said the minister.

An EU spokesperson in Brussels said the EU was discussing the possibility of European sanctions and that further debate was expected at the foreign ministers' meeting scheduled for Oct 15.

Last week, foreign ministers of the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain delayed a UN vote on more sanctions on Iran, asking for more talks with Tehran.