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London meeting on Iran crisis postponed: Britain

The idea of a London meeting on Friday was announced last week, after a dinner in New York of foreign ministers of the six countries trying to forge a common approach on Iran.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) May 17, 2006
A meeting of world powers in London this Friday on the Iran nuclear crisis has been postponed in order to fine-tune European Union proposals to Tehran, Britain said.

The meeting -- involving senior diplomatic officials from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- would likely take place in the next 10 days or so, a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP.

"The reason is to allow more detailed preparations on the EU-3 proposals to Iran," he said. Those proposals -- set out by London, Paris and Berlin -- would offer incentives to Tehran if it halts sensititive nuclear work.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but the international community has yet to be reassured that the Islamic republic's real aim is to develop its own nuclear weapons.

The United States, along with Britain, France and Germany, which are leading the EU response on Iran, want a UN Security Council resolution that would legally bind Iran to stopping its uranium enrichment work.

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

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier Wednesday ridiculed the idea of EU incentives, telling a rally: "They think they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange."

The Foreign Office spokesman declined to comment on Ahmadinejad's tough talk, saying: "He's been saying these things continuously... and everyone knows our position."

He also said he was unable to confirm when the closed-door meeting in London would now take place, but added: "We're looking at some time over the next 10 days."

Speaking in Washington on Tuesday, where he hinted that the London meeting might be postponed, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said the EU incentives had yet to be finalised.

"The package has not been approved. It is under development," Burns said, adding that the London talks would "probably" take place next week.

"We are just at the beginning," he added. "I can't say anything about the package as it is still being negotiated."

The idea of a London meeting on Friday was announced last week, after a dinner in New York of foreign ministers of the six countries trying to forge a common approach on Iran.

According to diplomats in Vienna, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the EU and the United States are considering a proposal to allow Iran to acquire a light-water nuclear reactor in return for forfeiting uranium enrichment. Russia would enrich uranium on Iran's behalf.

UN sanctions could follow if Iran did not accept the deal, diplomats in Vienna told AFP.

Related Links

EU, US considering offering Iran nuclear reactor: diplomats
Vienna (AFP) May 17, 2006
Europe and the United States are considering helping Iran acquire a light-water nuclear reactor in return for Tehran giving up uranium enrichment on its soil as a guarantee that it will not make atomic weapons, diplomats said Tuesday.







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