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Friday, October 14, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | US presses Iran on nuclear talks

BBC NEWS | Europe | US presses Iran on nuclear talks US presses Iran on nuclear talks
The US secretary of state has urged Iran to resume talks with the European Union on its nuclear programme.

Condoleezza Rice was speaking after talks with French leaders, who along with Britain and Germany have tried to engage Iran in dialogue.

The US has accused Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

The US is threatening to refer Iran to the UN Security Council if it fails to scrap plans to enrich uranium.

"There is always the course of negotiation ... but there is also the course of the Security Council," Ms Rice said.

"It is therefore important that Iran negotiate in good faith."

Russia talks

Last month the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), supported a resolution threatening Iran with referral to the UN Security Council.

Russia has helped Tehran develop nuclear reactor facilities.

Ms Rice will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday before heading to London for talks with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Minister Jack Straw.

Negotiations between Iran and three European powers - Britain, France and Germany - remain deadlocked.

IAEA discussions

Since August, Tehran has threatened to resume uranium enrichment.

Last month, the IAEA adopted a resolution which called on Iran to suspend enrichment again. Russia abstained in that vote.

The IAEA will meet again next month but it is still not clear if there is enough backing to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.

This week, Tehran said it would welcome the resumption of talks with the Europeans without preconditions.

Franco-US thaw

When Ms Rice was last in Paris eight months ago, she spoke of opening up a new chapter in Franco-American relations, to heal the rift over the US-led war in Iraq.

Both sides insist they have put all major disagreements behind them and stress they are working together on a range of issues, including foreign policy.

France has pleaded with Washington to take a pragmatic approach to Iran, hoping that despite the current stalemate, diplomacy will eventually win out.

A spokesman for President Jacques Chirac said he and Ms Rice agreed that "the perspective of an Iran in possession of nuclear weapons is unacceptable," the French news agency AFP reported.
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