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. Six major powers, Arab states discuss Iran's nuke program
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 16 (AFP) Dec 16, 2008
Ministers from six major powers kicked off a rare meeting with several Arab countries here Tuesday to assure them that they will maintain pressure on Iran to scale down its nuclear ambitions.

The so-called P5-plus-1 -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council members (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) plus Germany -- huddled behind closed doors with top representatives of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who Monday said he would attend the gathering, did not show up and was represented by the Russian ambassador to Washington, Sergei Kisliak, a former deputy foreign minister in charge of the Iranian nuclear program, according to Russian diplomats.

Present were US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

Germany and China were represented by their UN ambassadors, while France sent Gerard Araud, a top foreign ministry official.

According to a senior US State Department official, the meeting is intended to reassure GCC members (Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) plus Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia that the six major powers intend to act to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

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

But Tehran is pressing on with its sensitive nuclear fuel work, which the United States and other Western powers fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and solely geared toward electricity generation.

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