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. US backs EU-3 on eve of crucial nuclear talks with Iran
WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (AFP) Dec 19, 2005
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday met with German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung and reiterated her support to European efforts to resolve the standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

"She reiterated our support for the EU-3 (Germany, France and Britain) negotiations with Iran," Julie Reside, a state department spokeswoman, said.

Officials from the EU-3 and Tehran are to meet in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss re-starting formal negotiations on obtaining guarantees that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.

Reside said Iran during the talks between Rice and Jung had also come in for criticism over recent remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said the Jewish Holocaust never took place and who questioned Israel's right to exist.

"They agreed that the statements of the Iranian president regarding Israel are disturbing and need to be condemned," Reside said.

Jung qualified his first meeting with Rice since taking office in November as "very positive".

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Iraq, in the Serb province of Kosovo and in Afghanistan, where Germany has deployed troops as part of NATO peacekeeping forces.

Germany is also training Iraqi security forces in the United Arab Emirates.

Jung during his stay in Washington was also to meet with his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

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