AP: Arab nations concerned about Iran's nuclear program want to meet regularly with the six international powers trying to ensure that it remains peaceful, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday.
The Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Arab nations concerned about Iran's nuclear program want to meet regularly with the six international powers trying to ensure that it remains peaceful, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday.
Rice spoke to reporters after a closed door meeting between the six countries — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — and representatives from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
"All there expressed their concern about Iran's nuclear policies and its regional ambitions," Rice told reporters.
Iran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment despite three rounds of U.N. sanctions, insisting it has a right to carry out enrichment to provide nuclear energy under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The U.S. and key European nations believe that Iran's ultimate goal is to produce nuclear weapons_ which Tehran vehemently denies.
Rice said Tuesday's session was the first large meeting with Arab countries on the Iran issue following informal consultations last month in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt.
"I think what really did come through here is that these are countries that have very deep interests in how this issue is resolved," she said of the Arab participants. "Noting the utility of the consultations, the states present agreed that they want to continue their meetings on a regular basis," Rice added.
The six countries that have been in the forefront of efforts to ensure that Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful have offered Iran a package of incentives if it suspends enrichment and enters into talks on its nuclear program. The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions to pressure Iran to comply.
Asked whether more sanctions are needed, Rice said, "I think there is a concern that there will need to be a way to finally incentivize Iran to make a different choice concerning its nuclear ambitions, but this is not an effort to develop a common strategy."