Monday, March 27, 2006

U.S., Russian Diplomats Seek to End Iran Deadlock

U.S. and Russian diplomats were meeting in a new bid to end the impasse over a UN response to Iran’s controversial nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, AFP reported.

Rice acknowledged during a round of Sunday television talk shows that differences persisted over the language of a UN Security Council statement seeking to keep Iran from pursuing sensitive nuclear work.

She said she had spoken Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and they agreed to have their negotiators work through the weekend in an attempt to hammer out language acceptable to both.

I think they’re going to meet later today, to try and resolve these differences, because we do need to speak and speak with one voice,” the chief U.S. diplomat told the Fox News Sunday program.

But we shouldn’t delay,” she later told CNN’s “Late Edition,” adding that “we do need a presidential statement that makes clear to the Iranians what is clear to everyone.” READ MORE

No word was available on the progress of efforts to thrash out a Security Council presidential statement on Iran’s uranium-enrichment activities that Washington suspects are aimed at building a nuclear bomb.

Russia and China, two of the council’s five veto-wielding permanent members, have balked at even threatening sanctions against Iran for a nuclear program that Tehran insists is for strictly peaceful purposes.

The United States has been pushing for a tough approach, backed by France and Britain, which are also permanent members of the Security Council, and Germany.

Rice told NBC television that once agreement was reached on a UN statement, the United States might seek a ministerial meeting of the council’s permanent members plus Germany “to talk about charting a course forward.”