Iran News ...


2/10/05

Rice says no deadline set for European diplomatic initiative with Iran

Brussels, Feb 9, IRNA -- American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, continued her hard-line rhetoric against the Islamic Republic in Brussels Wednesday following talks with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU).

But analysts perceived some toning down in her wordings when she said that the US set "no deadline" for progress in EU diplomatic efforts on Iran's nuclear programme.

"We've set no deadline, no timeline. We haven't set any timetables," Rice told a press conference after meeting NATO foreign ministers Wednesday afternoon.

She was replying to a question if the US administration has set any timetable for EU-Iran negotiations to bear results before taking other measures against Iran.

Rice said the US is closely watching the EU-Iran talks and Washington is in close contacts with the Europeans.

"I think the message is there," Rice said. "The Iranians need to get that message,'' she said, adding that Tehran should know that "there are other steps" the international community can take, such as referring Iran to the UN Security Council.

Rice said she had an extensive discussion over lunch with her NATO colleague on Afghanistan, "of the remarkable events that have taken place there in the last three and a half years."

On Iraq, she said "it is the best discussion of Iraq that we have had as an Alliance since the Saddam Hussein regime fell."

Later in the afternoon, Rice met the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and the External Relations Group of Commissioners.

"We have unity of purpose about Iran where there are concerns worldwide that Iran's efforts to, under cover of civilian nuclear power, build components that could be used to build nuclear weapons."

"We have complete agreement that funding of terrorism particularly at a time when Palestinians and Israelis are trying to come to some rapprochement is unacceptable from any state, whether Iran or Syria," she said.

On his part Barroso said, "we have had a very substantial dialogue, based on the shared values and very many common interests which underpin our relationship."

"The opportunities for making progress are before us - whether it be in the Middle East, Afghanistan, or the Balkans. We will succeed if we act together,'' noted Barroso.

Rice travels later Wednesday to Luxembourg, which holds the current EU Presidency, on the last leg of her European tour.

She is expected to discuss plans for the visit to Brussels of US resident George Bush on 22 February with the leadership in Luxembourg and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

... Payvand News - 2/10/05 ... --



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