Monday, October 10, 2005

Rice to Hammer Out Iran Strategy with UK, France

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will hammer out a joint strategy with European powers over how to curb Iran's suspected nuclear arms programs on a trip later this week to France and Britain, a senior State Department official said on Monday.

Washington is working to shore up support for reporting the Islamic republic to the U.N. Security Council after the world body's nuclear watchdog agency agreed to do so but failed to set a deadline for the move that could lead to sanctions.

Rice, who will add the two stops on her return from a trip to Central Asia which begins on Monday, needs to find a way to coax Iran back to the negotiating table where Britain, France and Germany are leading the talks. READ MORE

Rice, who is expected to be in Paris on Friday and London on the weekend, does not plan to visit Germany because a government has yet to be formed there after a tight election.

The top U.S. diplomat, who speaks frequently with her British and French counterparts by phone and has hosted them in Washington, has not visited the allies' capitals for months.

On her trip, the three nations will also work out how much pressure to exert on nations, especially Russia, that help Iran with its nuclear development. Washington has sent mixed signals on its policy toward nuclear suppliers in recent weeks.

Other priorities in Rice's talks will include Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and political developments in Lebanon, said the U.S. official who asked for anonymity since the European visit had not been formally announced.