France accused Iran on Thursday of secretly making nuclear weapons, ditching Europe's traditional diplomatic caution for bluntness in remarks that echoed the tough US stance on Iran's disputed nuclear program.
The accusation from French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy - which Iran quickly denied - appeared to reflect mounting exasperation and a tougher stance by one of three key European negotiators.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, by contrast, said Thursday that she was "truly optimistic, I would even say very optimistic, that we can do everything to solve this conflict with diplomatic means." Britain's foreign secretary, Jack Straw, also erred on the side of caution, saying "there are strong suspicions internationally that Iran may be seeking to use its nuclear program in order to develop a nuclear weapons capability" but "we do not have absolute proof."
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