Britain warns Iran over nuclear programme at UN meeting

21st September 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday warned his Iranian counterpart that Britain would resist any increase in Iran's nuclear capabilities, during a meeting at the UN in New York.

Hague told Ali Akbar Salehi there were "important areas of disagreement" between the two countries, but that there was no inherent hostility in Britain towards the Middle East nation, a Foreign Office (FCO) statement said.

"The Foreign Secretary emphasised that there was no animosity between the British people and the Iranian people," a foreign office spokesman explained.

The British ministry stressed that it respected Iran's right to civil nuclear power, but that Iran "had not persuaded the international community that its nuclear programme was for peaceful purposes."

Britain would "maintain its strong resolve to oppose nuclear proliferation," and would back the UN's mission to make sure Iran's nuclear programme did not take on military dimensions, said the spokesman.

Hague and Salehi -- meeting on the sidelines at the United Nations General Assembly -- pinpointed Afghanistan and counter-narcotics as areas where the two countries could "build deeper cooperation", the spokesman added.

Hague also expressed regret over Iran's execution on Wednesday of a 17-year-old boy, saying it had caused "huge international concern."

Hague last week promised to support a "strong resolution condemning abuses" at the UN meeting after accusing Tehran of being "completely unwilling" to address claims of oppression.

In a speech to a seminar organised by the Times newspaper, Hague said sanctions would be be lifted if Iran improved its rights record, but increased if it failed to do so.

© 2011 AFP

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