Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the West to be prepared to confront Iran with force in order to face the "looming and coming challenge" from the Islamic republic, French news agency AFP reported on Saturday.
"It [Iran] has to be confronted and changed. Iran is a looming challenge. It is negative and destabilizing. It supports terrorists," Blair, who currently serves as the Quartet envoy to the Middle East said at the Chilcot inquiry, the U.K. inquiry into the war in Iraq.
"I say this to you with all of the passion I possibly can -- at some point the West has to get out of what I think is a wretched policy or posture of apology for believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing," the Quartet envoy said, adding that "we have to get our head out of the sand. They disagree fundamentally with our way of life and will carry on unless met with determination and, if necessary, force."
Blair, who regularly visits the Middle East as the Quartet envoy, said that he could see the "impact and the influence of Iran everywhere."
Blair's comments came as Iran began talks in Istanbul with six world powers over its disputed nuclear program.
World powers entered a second and final day of talks with Iran on Saturday, having made scant progress toward persuading the Islamic Republic to curb its nuclear program on the first day of the meeting in Istanbul.
There was some relief that Iran was ready to continue, as diplomats expressed concern that talks could have collapsed on the first day as both sides dug in around old positions.
While the six powers would like to kick start talks focused at freezing Iran's uranium enrichment program, Tehran has repeatedly said that the subject is not up for discussion.
Instead, Iranian officials are pushing an agenda that covers just about everything except its nuclear program: global disarmament, Israel's suspected nuclear arsenal, and Tehran's concerns about U.S. military bases in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
The U.S. State Department spokesman said following talks with Iran and world powers in Istanbul that they were willing to engage Iran but they remain realistic.
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