Berlusconi: 'We hope that Israel doesn't attack Iran'

Italian PM reportedly doubts that sanctions will be effective, favors "a more gentle approach" with China and Russia's help.

berlusconi GREAT 311 (photo credit: AP)
berlusconi GREAT 311
(photo credit: AP)
Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi reportedly said he hopes Israel does not attack Iran, and expressed doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions, according to Friday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.
"Regarding Israel, we can only hope that the nuclear threat is not viewed as so great that Israel takes military action against Iran," Berlusconi was quoted as saying.
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Berlusconi was also quoted as telling Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that, although Italy has participated in the sanctions, "I fear that sanctions will not bring success."
He said sanctions have tended to reinforce regimes in countries such as Cuba, and "a gentle and circumspect approach would be more helpful," the newspaper reported
Berlusconi identified Russia and China as countries that could pursue such an approach, and said he had asked China's Premier Wen Jiabao "to use his influence in this direction." The two permanent UN Security Council members have been more hesitant than Western nations about taking a hard line against Iran, and Russian engineers have helped Iran build a nuclear power plant.
Italy has supported UN sanctions despite its strong commercial ties with Teheran, but also has always tried to reach out to Iran by trying to get it involved in issues such as Afghanistan's future.
Asked if Iran can be integrated in the international community, Berlusconi replied: "We must at least try that — it is the only way to get Iran out of its blind alley."