US gives lukewarm support to Europe-Iran talks

22nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (AFP) - The White House said Wednesday that it backed joint diplomatic efforts by Britain, France and Germany to satisfy concerns that Iran's nuclear program may hide a quest for atomic weapons.

WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (AFP) - The White House said Wednesday that it backed joint diplomatic efforts by Britain, France and Germany to satisfy concerns that Iran's nuclear program may hide a quest for atomic weapons.

"Our position is that we support the European 3 in their discussions with Iran. And we'll see where those discussions go," spokesman Scott McClellan said as talks between the group and the Islamic republic resumed in Vienna.

Iran and the EU agreed Wednesday to meet again in January to try to set terms for negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme that had broken off last August, a senior French official said after a day of talks.

The move drew an expression of exasperation from a senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Remember, the objective of this diplomatic exercise is not 'talk to talk,' it is negotiations to achieve an end. On that, everybody is unified," the official said.

He said the Iranians "are going to have to overcome the presumption that they are not interested in negotiations. ... They have not given any indication to date that they are interested in resuming the talks in a serious manner."

The full day of talks in Vienna Wednesday between foreign ministry officials from Britain, France and Germany and the Iranian delegation headed by Javad Vaidi were the first contact between the two sides since August, when Iran resumed uranium conversion.

Conversion is the first step in making enriched uranium, and while Tehran has so far gone no further, it made clear Wednesday it would not back down on the right to do so, which it claims is guaranteed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran has rejected a Russian idea, backed by Washington, to do some fuel cycle work at home while enriching uranium only on Russian soil, which would keep this sensitive activity out of the country.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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