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. France still wants six powers to meet on Iran
PARIS, Sept 24 (AFP) Sep 24, 2008
France still hopes the six world powers leading an international response to Iran's nuclear programme will meet this week, despite Russian reluctance, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Paris had earlier called for foreign ministers from Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States to meet along with France on the sidelines of this week's United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss the crisis.

But Moscow, already at loggerheads with the West over its intervention in Georgia last month, said Tuesday it saw no immediate need for the talks, which were expected to deal with possible further sanctions against Tehran.

"We hope this meeting will be held," said French foreign ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux, insisting that the six power group was still the right forum in which to devise a response to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

He added that discussions were continuing in New York between senior non-ministerial officials from the six power group.

On Tuesday, Russia announced that it could see no need for a minsterial meeting and the United States confirmed that planned talks had been cancelled.

The so-called P5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- was set up in the hope of convincing Tehran not to enrich uranium, amid fears Iran intends to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran insists it is simply developing a civilian nuclear energy programme.

Russia is helping Iran in this civilian project and has been the most reluctant among the six power group to push for tighter sanctions.

Diplomatic relations between Russia and the West have soured since August when Russian forces intervened in the conflict between Georgia and its breakaway regions, triggering international outrage.

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