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. Clinton urges Iran to show "willingness to engage" in talks
WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (AFP) Jan 27, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged Iran to show "willingness to engage meaningfully" with the world community and said a US envoy would join multilateral talks next week on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

"With respect to Iran, there is a clear opportunity for the Iranians, as the president expressed in his interview, to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community," Clinton told reporters.

"Whether or not that hand becomes less clenched is really up to them. But as we look at the opportunities available to us, we're going to have a very broad survey of what we think we can do," Clinton said in her first news briefing.

"In an interview with Al-Arabiya satellite television network, President Barack Obama said Monday the United States would offer Iran an extended hand of diplomacy if the Islamic Republic's leaders "unclenched their fist."

Obama said he would in the next few months lay out a general framework of policy towards Tehran, in the interview with Dubai-based satellite television network.

Susan Rice, the new US ambassador to the United Nations made her debut Monday when she pledged vigorous" and "direct" nuclear diplomacy with Iran but warned of increased pressure if Tehran refuses to halt uranium enrichment.

The five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany (known as the P5-plus-1) have offered Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for halting its uranium enrichment program, which the West sees as a cover to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

But Tehran is pressing on with sensitive nuclear fuel work, insisting that its nuclear program is peaceful and solely geared toward electricity generation.

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

"The P5-plus-1 talks, which will reconvene next week, I believe, are an already existing vehicle that we will again monitor," she said.

She did not give details about the gathering but the State Department's acting spokesman Robert Wood said a meeting of political directors from the State Department and foreign ministries is planned for next week in Germany.

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