Italy's Tehran Embassy Provides Aid to Wounded Protesters

Italy said Sunday it had instructed its embassy in Iran to provide humanitarian aid to protesters wounded in days of violent clashes over disputed elections.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he planned to discuss a European Union-wide proposal to coordinate such assistance for wounded demonstrators during a meeting Wednesday in Stockholm, Sweden, which takes over the EU presidency next week.

Pending a coordinated response, Italy has already instructed its embassy to help out "where there is a request or need for help from injured demonstrators," the ministry said in a statement.

Separately Sunday, Italy urged Iran to take urgent but peaceful measures to end the violence and hold an open meeting with the country's opposition.

The Foreign Ministry said it respected Iran's sovereignty and recognized the role it plays in the region, but said it was in Tehran's own interest to find a lasting solution to the crisis that is agreed to by all Iranians.

Italy, which is Tehran's leading trading partner in the European Union, has invited Iran to attend this week's meeting in Trieste of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations. Frattini said Tehran could contribute to discussions on stabilizing Afghanistan.

Several European countries, including Britain, France and Germany, have raised concerns about reports of voting irregularities in the June 12 vote that re-elected hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Foreign Ministry statement did not raise such concerns, saying only that it was "particularly concerned" and saddened about the loss of life in the street protests.

"Italy believes that the exit from the crisis is found via an open and peaceful meeting between the government and other parts of Iranian society," the statement said.