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Berlin says US pressure on Iran may fuel deal

Published on January 20, 2005

20 January 2005

BERLIN – A German official said that United States military pressure on Iran could help European diplomatic efforts to clinch a deal with Teheran over its nuclear programme.

“If the Iranians know that if this peaceful resolution does not work that the Americans will raise pressure with non-peaceful means, it could perhaps boost their readiness to make compromises and give up the nuclear weapons they are possibly planning,” said Karsten Voigt, the German government coordinator for ties with Washington.

Voigt told Deutsche Welle TV on Wednesday he still believed diplomatic efforts were the best way to defuse the ongoing crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Earlier, a spokesman for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder underlined that the US had a “basic right” to hold open “all options” with regard to Iran.

Chief chancellery spokesman Bela Anda told reporters the US refusal to rule out military action over Iran’s nuclear programme – underlined by US President George W. Bush on Monday – was “nothing new.”

Germany strongly opposed the Iraq war, and Bush’s comments on Iran fuelled considerable public debate in the country.

Berlin is part of the European Union (EU) “Big Three” with Britain and France which is seeking to hammer out a diplomatic deal with Teheran.

Under the deal, Iran would guarantee to refrain from building nuclear weapons and halt uranium enrichment in exchange for trade and technology concessions from Europe.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is scheduled to meet next week with designated US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a foreign ministry spokesman said. The meeting would probably take place on Tuesday with a final announcement due in coming days.

Schroeder is due to have talks with President Bush who is set to visit Germany on 23 February as part of a European tour.


Subject: German news