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. UN ministerial meeting on Iranian nuclear program
NEW YORK, Dec 15 (AFP) Dec 15, 2008
Ministers from the six nations involved in talks over Iran's nuclear program will meet Tuesday at the United Nations with representatives of several Arab countries, diplomatic sources said Monday.

The so-called P5-plus-1 -- Germany and permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- will join Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the source indicated on condition of anonymity.

Not all of the countries will be represented at the ministerial level for the ad-hoc meeting that will follow a Middle East Quartet gathering of Western and Arab diplomatic chiefs in New York.

Representatives from the Quartet -- United States, European Union, Russia, United Nations -- were set to meet over dinner later Monday with several Arab ministers.

The pro-Western GCC states -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman -- have decided to develop a joint nuclear technology program for peaceful purposes amid concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions and growing regional influence.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported over the weekend that Germany is seeking further sanctions against Iran that target the banking and transportation sectors.

The Europeans will try to reach agreement on extending sanctions against Tehran with Russia, China and the incoming US administration of Barack Obama that would not require a Security Council vote, added the report.

Der Spiegel said the goal was to provide Obama a means to pressure Iran in any future dialogue.

Obama has said that his administration would engage in direct talks with Tehran, a move that would represent a break with three decades of US policy.

The UN Security Council has already adopted four resolutions -- three of which included sanctions -- requiring Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

But Tehran has pursued its nuclear work, which the United States and other Western powers suspect of being a cover for an atomic-weapons making program.

Iran insists its nuclear program is only for civil energy uses.

Earlier this month, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, said that international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear activity have been a failure.

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