Rice says U.S. will defend allies from Iran

TBILISI Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:53am BST

1 of 4. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at a joint news conference after talks with Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi July 10, 2008. Rice on Thursday called on Russia to help resolve tension in Georgia's rebel regions rather than contributing to it and demanded an end to violence in the regions.

Credit: Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili

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TBILISI (Reuters) - Iran should have no doubt about the United States' commitment to defending its allies from possible attack, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.

Rice, on a visit to the ex-Soviet state of Georgia, was speaking a day after Iran test-fired missiles it said can hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East.

"We are also sending a message to Iran that we will defend American interests and ... the interests of our allies," she told a news conference after a meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

"We take very, very strongly our obligation to help our allies defend themselves and no one should be confused about that," she said.

The United States and European powers suspect Tehran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon under cover of its civilian atomic programme. Tehran denies this, saying its nuclear programme is exclusively for generating electricity.

The United States has said it will not rule out military action against Iran but says that it is committed to seeking a diplomatic solution to the nuclear row.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mary Gabriel)

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