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. US 'fully' supports EU talks with Iran: Rice
WASHINGTON (AFP) Jun 08, 2005
The United States fully backs European efforts to halt Iran's suspected nuclear activities but is not mulling any new economic incentives for Tehran, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.

Rice made her remarks after talks with Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Germany, which is working with Britain and France to wean Iran off its alleged nuclear arms ambitions with offers of economic help and security guarantees.

She called the negotiations "a process that we fully support" and hoped Tehran would "take full advantage of the opportunity the EU is giving to Iran to show the world that it is prepared to live up to its international obligations."

The United States had been skeptical of the European initiative and threatened to take the Iranians before the United Nations for possible sanctions.

Rice acknowledged the Americans made "some changes in our policy" in March to support the EU-3 talks with promises not to oppose Iran's attempt to apply for entry into the World Trade Organization and to help it obtain spare plane parts.

But asked if the United States had anything further in mind to sweeten the offer in the talks, Rice said, "We'll keep in very close coordination and stay abreast of them. But we aren't considering anything else at this point."

Rice made her remarks after an Iranian negotiator in Tehran said Iran was still awaiting a calendar for new talks with the Europeans and was prepared to quit the process if the timetable was not to its liking.

The EU-3 and Iran gave themselves some breathing space after a round of negotiations two weeks ago and agreed to return to the table in August, following Iran's June 17 presidential elections.

But negotiator Ali Agha Mohammadi said this week Tehran was looking for new negotiations before the end of July if it was to maintain a suspension of sensitive nuclear activities.

Fischer, meanwhile, reiterated his call for "close coordination" between the European Union and the United States.

"And we think the negotiations should continue as long as the conditions for this negotiations process exist," he said.

The veteran Germany envoy cited two conditions: discussions on the basis of the EU-Iran agreement struck last year to suspend Iran's fuel cycle work, and no change in Iran's activities on the ground.

"And as long as there are no activities there, as long as we have a suspension of the activities, I think the conditions are given to move forward in the negotiations," he said.

"The negotiations are not easy, they are complicated," Fischer said. "But I think with the close coordination with our American friends, with the Russians ... and with our friends in Europe and with the backing of the EU, I think we can move forward."

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