Associated Press correspondent Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili reports:
Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that no final decision has been made about a woman who could be stoned to death for adultery, amid reports that her execution was imminent.
Manouchehr Mottaki's statement follows an international outcry over the stoning sentence against the 43-year-old woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
"Everyone has to be punished for murder," Mottaki said at a news conference in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. "The person has killed her husband and I think this fact will be considered as a crime in every country ... But in this case the final decision has not been made yet."
Earlier Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also said in a statement that Mottaki had told him that a final verdict in Ashtiani's case has not been issued yet and that reports "about her eventual execution don't correspond to reality." But Kouchner said France is "very worried" about the case.
Iran has temporarily suspended the stoning verdict and has suggested Ashtiani might be hanged instead.
The case has further elevated tensions between Iran and the West, already running high over suspicions about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The office of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his wife Laureen Harper sent an open letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad calling for Ashtiani's release. Mrs. Harper wrote that she was "deeply troubled by the flagrant disregard of women's rights in Iran" and said Ashtiani's case "is an affront to any sense of moral or human decency."Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Malek Ajdar Sharifi, a top local judiciary official, as saying Wednesday that Ashtiani was in good health in a prison in Tabriz, northwestern Iran.
Sharifi didn't say if Ashtiani will be executed or not but said her case "is being investigated and is undergoing administrative procedures."
He accused the media in the West for spreading false news about Ashtiani aimed at discrediting Iran.
The International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution said in a statement this week that Iranian authorities had given the go-ahead for Ashtiani's execution, and that it could happen Wednesday. The group would not provide details on where its information came from.
But its report raised alarm in western capitals. The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was "deeply concerned" by the reports and "demands that Iran halt the execution and convert her sentence," Ashton's office said in a statement.
Ashtiani was first convicted in May 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men after the death of her husband — for which a court in Tabriz sentenced her to 99 lashes. Later that year she was also convicted of adultery, despite having retracted a confession, which she claims was made under duress.