The Group of Eight nations have agreed a joint statement on Iran ‘deploring’ the crackdown on post-election protests but pledging to solve the Iranian nuclear dispute through dialogue, the French president said.

Speaking on Wednesday evening after the first day of the G8 summit in the Italian town of L’Aquila, Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters that the violence that followed last month’s dispute election in Iran was "deeply shocking".

As agreed at a G8 foreign ministers’ meeting last month, the statement from the leaders of the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Britain say they "deplore post-electoral violence, which led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians,” but avoids using the word “condemn”.

The countries also agreed to seek talks with Iran to find a way out of the long-running dispute over its nuclear power program, which many Western powers say is a cover for a weapons program.

"We want to give negotiation every chance. If that works, then great. If that leads nowhere, then that won''t be without consequences," Sarkozy said.