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US criticises EU approach to Iran

Published on 09/02/2005

9 February 2005

BRUSSELS – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has criticised the EU’s soft approach to Iran ahead of a keynote visit to Brussels.

Rice was in Brussels on Wednesday as part of a ‘bridge-building’ tour of Europe and the Middle East.

But before she arrived she accused Europe of failing to make it clear that Iran faced UN sanctions if it did not put a halt to its nuclear programme.

“The Iranians need to hear that if they are unwilling to take the deal, really, that the Europeans are giving…then the Security Council looms,” Rice told US broadcaster Fox News.

“I don’t know that anyone has said that as clearly as they should to the Iranians,” she said.

Her comments are unlikely to be welcomed just one day after she spoke of a “new chapter” in transatlantic relations and urged Europeans to turn from the disagreements of the past.

Europe and the US remain divided over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear programme, which Washington believes conceals a covert aim to develop nuclear weapons.

While the Europeans, led by France, Germany and the UK, favour engagement with Tehran, the Bush adminstration advocates pressure.

Rice had a packed schedule for her short visit to the self-styled capital of Europe.

After meeting with NATO foreign ministers she had talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and five EU commissioners, including Belgian development commissioner Louis Michel.

Rice was then scheduled to meet Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt before flying to Luxembourg for further meetings with the Luxembourg EU Presidency.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news