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Iranian government "too simplistic," France says

Apparently Iranian President Mohammad Khatami hasn't heard that using phrases like "Axis of Evil" will set back international relations by centuries.

But Mr. Bush's implied threat against Iran generated a discussion among politicians here about relations with the United States, with many arguing that anti-American oratory no longer serves Iran's interests. Some suggested that direct talks were the only way to avert the threat. The minister of defense, Ali Shamkhani, was summoned to Parliament to answer questions over hostile remarks by one of his commanders.

Davood Hermidas Bavand, an independent political analyst and a professor at Tehran University, said the implied American threat had changed the political situation here.

"Naming Iran part of an evil axis, and categorizing it along with Iraq and North Korea, have created serious concerns and worries which have changed the conditions," he said. "It is natural that under the new conditions, there would be suggestions for constructive dialogue, which is the first step for resolving any matter peacefully."

Whoda thunk it? Letting your opponents know that you're willing to stand up to them might work! Better even than the alternate plan, of surrendering. Quick, someone tell Hubert Vedrine. (Look for him under the table, where he's cowering.) Could it be that George Bush might have known what he was doing?

[By the way, the New York Times buried this story on page A12. If Iran had threatened to attack the U.S. in response, is there any doubt that it would have been on A1?]


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