Iran General NewsBush wants diplomatic solution to Iran crisis: UK

Bush wants diplomatic solution to Iran crisis: UK

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Reuters: President Bush wants and believes in a diplomatic solution to the international standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday. By Madeline Chambers

LONDON (Reuters) – President Bush wants and believes in a diplomatic solution to the international standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday.

Blair, one of Bush’s closest global allies, pointed to last week’s offer from Washington to talk to Tehran if it suspended uranium enrichment work as a very significant development.

“I think that is a big step. It indicates that America wants to find a diplomatic solution to this,” Blair told reporters at a monthly press conference.

The United States and many of its western allies believe Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons, but the Islamic Republic says it needs atomic technology for power generation.

“In every discussion I have ever had with the (U.S.) president about Iran it has always been clear that although he is determined, as he should be, to prevent the acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability by Iran, he nevertheless wants and believes a diplomatic solution can be found,” Blair said.

Washington has said it is seeking a diplomatic resolution to the crisis but has not ruled out military action.

In Algiers, visiting junior Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells told reporters: “We have no plan at present for military action but we are determined to play our role for a peaceful world.”

Washington’s offer to talk came just before Iran was presented with proposals backed by six world powers aimed at defusing the nuclear standoff.

The offer, backed by the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, includes incentives to encourage the world’s fourth biggest oil exporter to give up uranium enrichment.

But it also contains penalties if Iran rejects the offer.

Blair said it was good that Iran was seriously considering the proposals but signaled there was growing international support for more robust measures if Iran were to say “no”.

“I hope very much that they don’t reject it because that would cause a lot of difficulty,” said Blair.

He declined to be drawn on exactly what action would follow if Iran did not agree to the offer, but said this had been discussed by those involved in the talks.

“Everyone agreed that that was the right basis on which it should be made — that enrichment was suspended and then the Americans join the talks, I think it’s possible that others will come in on the back of that too,” said Blair.

Earlier on Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said threats would not work in solving the dispute but added Iran was ready to clear up misunderstandings with the world.

(Additional reporting by Bill Maclean in Algiers)

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