Talks on Iran's nuclear program to continue in Germany

Foreign ministers from the five U.N. Security Council permanent member nations, plus Germany, will meet in Berlin in Thursday for talks about Iran's nuclear program, Britain's foreign secretary said. Talks in New York aimed at drafting a Security Council statement on Tehran's nuclear enrichment program have stalled. The diplomats' meeting in Berlin would seek to push the process forward, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters in London on Monday.

In Berlin, Germany's Foreign Ministry confirmed the plans for the meeting. Britain, France, the United States, Russia, China and Germany have been trying to agree on a statement that would express the Security Council's worries about the Iranian program. Russia is believed to be reluctant to sign up to a statement that is too strong.

Tehran says it only wants to build nuclear power plants for civilian use, but Britain, the United States and other nations fear Iran hopes to build a nuclear bomb. Britain, France and Germany broke off more than two years of talks with Iran in January, saying there was no point in continuing to negotiate after Tehran said it would restart its uranium enrichment program.

Washington and its European allies successfully pressed the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to refer Iran to the Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions. British diplomats say the Western countries will not seek sanctions now, but hope the council will be able to exert pressure on Tehran and persuade it to halt its nuclear work.

Russia was initially reluctant to back referring Iran to the Security Council. Moscow has invested millions in Iranian power plants. Russian President Vladimir Putin had pushed a compromise proposal under which Russia would have enriched nuclear fuel for Iran, but it went nowhere.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit northwestern England with Straw on Friday and Saturday, and Straw has said that he and Rice would make speeches together on foreign policy during the trip, reports the AP.


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