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. Indonesia wants expanded team to discuss nuclear issue with Iran
WASHINGTON, May 19 (AFP) May 19, 2006
Indonesia called Friday for an expanded international team to negotiate directly with Iran to resolve a nuclear crisis.

At present, three European Union members -- France, Germany and Britain -- are involved in direct talks with Iran over the Islamic republic's sensitive nuclear program.

But Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, on a visit to Washington, said "the current negotiating forum, namely Iran and the EU-3, should be enlarged" to cover other permanent members of the UN Security Council and developing member economies in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Britain and France are among the five permanent members of the Security Council, which also includes the United States, Russia and China.

Wirajuda said some of the developing countries in the NPT had been "very faithful in their nuclear activities" and could help join the process of finding a "peaceful solution.

"Countries such as Indonesia and South Africa, ... we have also an important stake in the process," Wirajuda told a Washington forum of the US-Indonesia Society before holding talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Wirajuda and Rice did not speak to reporters after their talks.

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Indonesia last week to attend a meeting of the so-called Developing Eight (D-8) group of Muslim countries.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country.

The United States, along with the EU-3, wants a UN Security Council resolution that would legally bind Iran to stop its sensitive uranium enrichment work, which could lead to development of a nuclear weapon.

But China and Russia fear this could heighten tensions and open the door to a military attack on Iran -- an option that the United States is refusing to take off the table.

Senior officials from the EU-3 are scheduled to meet in London on May 24 with their counterparts from the United States, China and Russia to discuss "the next step" in the matter.

The closed-door meeting would discuss an EU-3 offer of incentives to Tehran to halt its sensitive nuclear work.

Washington and its allies believe Iran is hiding a nuclear weapons drive. Tehran insists its research is for peaceful purposes.

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