Annan urges parties to `lower the temperature'

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday called for a cooling of the rhetoric in the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, saying he hoped current Security Council discussions would give new momentum toward a solution.

Annan's comments, in an advance text of a speech at Japan's prestigious Tokyo University, came as the dispute over Iran grew more heated with its president's mocking dismissal of a package of incentives to suspend uranium enrichment.

"It is my strong hope that the current discussions in the Security Council will give new momentum to the quest for a negotiated solution," Annan said, according to the text.

"There is also a need to lower the temperature, and refrain from actions and rhetoric that could further inflame the situation," he added. "Otherwise, we will see only an increase in global tensions ... and unwelcome delays in resolving the matter."

The discussions that Annan referred to, a high-level, six-nation meeting on Iran, however, were postponed Wednesday, reflecting differences between the United States and its allies on one side, and the Chinese and Russians on the other.

The London meeting of senior officials from the five permanent Security Council members and Germany was to have been held Friday, but was postponed to next Tuesday at the earliest, diplomats told The Associated Press.

The rhetoric has also heightened.

Earlier this week, European nations said they might add a light-water reactor to a package of incentives meant to persuade Tehran to permanently give up enrichment.

But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected that idea on Wednesday, comparing it to offering chocolate to a child in exchange for gold, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team