Merkel, Chirac rap Iran's response on enrichment

25th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

25 August 2006, PARIS/BRUSSELS - French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday slammed Iran's response to an offer by Western nations to cease its uranium enrichment activities in exchange for economic incentives. Tehran's reply "is a bit ambiguous...especially on the modes of the eventual suspension of its sensitive activities, which has been demanded by the entire international community," said Chirac after talks with Merkel. The German chancellor said Iran's reply "ignore

25 August 2006

PARIS/BRUSSELS - French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday slammed Iran's response to an offer by Western nations to cease its uranium enrichment activities in exchange for economic incentives.

Tehran's reply "is a bit ambiguous...especially on the modes of the eventual suspension of its sensitive activities, which has been demanded by the entire international community," said Chirac after talks with Merkel.

The German chancellor said Iran's reply "ignored important elements especially the suspension of its uranium enrichment activities."

However, Merkel said that "the door (to negotiations) remains open" and that it was "necessary that Iran seizes every chance."

In comments made at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier underlined that Iran's reply to the offer was "no basis for negotiation."

Steinmeier was especially critical of Iran's demand that the six countries - Germany, Britain, France, United States, Russia and China - which hammered out the trade and aid package must renounce plans to take Tehran to the United Nations Security Council before opening talks.

"My plea has always been that we begin negotiations without preconditions on any side," the German foreign minister underlined.

"Therefore Iran must understand that we cannot sit at the negotiating table if new centrifuges are built every day," he said, adding that he expected United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to make the point when he visits Iran in the coming days.

But before negotiations could open, all sides must establish a "common basis of trust," said Steinmeier.

"If this can be created then I can still imagine that a solution without involvement of the Security Council is possible," he said.

However, the onus was on Iran to make a compromise move, he insisted.

Earlier on Friday, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy also called the Iranian reply "unsatisfactory."

"Frankly, they say they want negotiations while at the same time they don't want to suspend (uranium enrichment)," Douste-Blazy told RTL radio. "But (UN Security Council) Resolution 1696 obliges them to suspend all uranium enrichment activities before August 31."

But he urged Western nations to avoid a confrontation over the issue, saying that "the worst thing would be a show of force in a confrontation" with Iran and the Islamic world.

"I believe in the principle that we must hold a dialogue with the Iranians, that we must extend them a hand," he said.

However, on Wednesday Douste-Blazy told journalists in Paris that there would be no negotiations with Tehran before they ceased all uranium enrichment activities.

Iran was given until August 31 to cease its uranium enrichment activities or face possible UN sanctions.

DPA

Subject: German news

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