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. We need US support in pressuring Iran, French FM tells Rice
PARIS (AFP) Feb 08, 2005
France, Britain and Germany need the United States to add its weight to diplomatic efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear programme, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told his US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, at a Paris media conference Tuesday.

For the pressure to work, "we need Russia, we need China, and we also need the support of the United States in this delicate phase," Barnier said.

The three EU powers have extracted a promise from Tehran to suspend nuclear activities in return for trade privileges.

The United States, however, has not participated in the negotiations and has instead made increasingly alarming noises about Iran's potential to produce nuclear weapons.

Rice, standing next to Barnier, said: "The Europeans have given the Iranians an opportunity to live up to their obligations. We hope they seize that."

Barnier said he believed the diplomatic option currently in use between Europe and Tehran was the best way to dissuade Iran from involvement in nuclear weapons.

"We are proceeding with our eyes open in these negotiations, as the vanguard of the international community," Barnier said.

The US accuses Iran of trying to obtain nuclear weapons under cover of developing a nuclear programme for peaceful civilian purposes and has not excluded a military option against Tehran.

However Washington has supported the three EU countries' diplomatic efforts to get assurances that Iran will not try to get the bomb.

Earlier Rice also discussed Iran with President Jacques Chirac at an hour-long meeting at the Elysee Palace, including the efforts by the three EU powers to obtain from the Iranians "guarantees of the exclusively peaceful end-result of their nuclear programme," presidential spokesman Jerome Bonnafont said.

On Iraq, Chirac told Rice, in Paris on a fence-mending tour of eight European nations, that France wished to support the political process begun with the January 30 elections, and "favours the integrity and stability of the country," according to the spokesman.

France, Germany and Russia all firmly opposed the war on Iraq, but it was France that incurred the special wrath of the Bush government for its stance.

"The international community must pursue and intensify efforts to consolidate Iraqi institutions and help them to successfully cross future hurdles, and in doing so ensure that all Iraqis are involved in this," Bonnafont quoted Chirac as telling Rice.

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