Iran Nuclear NewsUS still seeks diplomatic resolution of Iran row: Rice

US still seeks diplomatic resolution of Iran row: Rice

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AFP: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the nuclear stand-off with Iran could still be resolved diplomatically, a day after world powers agreed to haul Tehran back before the UN Security Council. DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) — US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the nuclear stand-off with Iran could still be resolved diplomatically, a day after world powers agreed to haul Tehran back before the UN Security Council.

As an incentive for Iran to comply with international demands to suspend uranium enrichment, Rice offered the prospect of direct talks and a normalisation of ties that would include “expanded trade”.

“I have said that if that suspension takes place, I will meet my counterpart any time, any place, anywhere to talk about anything. I don’t know how to make a stronger invitation than that,” she told global political and business leaders at the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Her remarks came a day after the five permanent members of the Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany reached agreement on a new UN Security Council resolution against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

The contents of the text were not released, but a senior US official said it “increases the severity of the sanctions already in place and will also introduce new elements.”

Iran described the move as “illegal” and “ineffective” and insisted it would clear up any remaining questions about its nuclear programme in talks with the UN nuclear watchdog.

Rice said agreement on the new resolution demonstrated a firm international consensus on preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.

“We do not want Iran to become a nuclear weapons power, and we will continue to hold Iran to its international obligations,” she said.

Washington and its EU allies have been pushing hard for a third set of economic and trade sanctions against Iran for defying international demands to stop uranium enrichment activities that they fear could be used to make a bomb.

China and Russia, which have lucrative trade ties with the Islamic republic, have been reluctant to back any more punitive measures.

“Ultimately, though, this problem can and should be resolved through diplomacy,” Rice said.

“If Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, we could begin negotiations, and we could work over time to build a new, more normal relationship — one defined not by fear and mistrust, but growing cooperation and expanded trade,” she added.

Iran denies it is seeking an atomic weapon, insisting its nuclear programme is peaceful and aimed merely at providing energy for its growing population.

Hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that the six major powers had made a “mistake” in drawing up a new resolution and warned that Iran would not be deflected from its development of nuclear power even if a third sanctions resolution were adopted.

“They should know that such illegal behaviour will be ineffective against the will of the Iranian people,” Ahmadinejad said.

In her remarks at the Davos gathering, Rice stressed that the United States had no desire to make a “permanent enemy” of Iran, despite what she described as nearly three decades of “difficult history.”

“We have no conflict with Iran’s people, but we have real difficulties with Iran’s government — from its support for terrorism, to its destabilising policies in Iraq,” she said.

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