U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns of violence because of Jericho operation

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday told Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he feared Israel's assault on a West Bank prison would lead to an escalation of violence, Olmert's office said.

Annan, who was in South Africa, and Olmert spoke by telephone about Tuesday's raid, in which Israeli troops captured dozens of Palestinians, including five prisoners wanted for killing an Israeli Cabinet Minister.

"The secretary-general said that after the operation was finished he is more calm because he feared an escalation in the region," read a statement from Olmert's office.

Annan also pledged to ensure that a U.N. Security Council statement on Iran's nuclear program would be "forceful and unequivocal so that there will be a chance of finding a diplomatic channel in facing Iran."

Israel, which accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons, has supported international efforts to control Tehran's nuclear program. Israel's former army chief said last week that if necessary, Israeli, U.S. and NATO forces could carry out a military strike that would set back Iran's nuclear program by several years, reports the AP.

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