London, June 24, IRNA-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Iran should take advantages of the negotiations led by Britain, France and Germany to reach long-term arrangements on its nuclear programme.
"We're very supportive of what the EU3 is doing," Rice told a news conference in London after a pre-G8 summit meeting of foreign ministers.
"We believe Iran should take advantage of the opportunity that is being provided to them by the European three to give confidence to the international community that they are prepared to live up to their international obligations," she said.
The US Secretary of State, who has previously voiced caution about the EU talks, urged Iran "to adhere to the Paris agreement and not to engage in any activities associated with the fuel cycle." Iran should not "seek a nuclear weapons programme under the cover of civilian nuclear power," she said. G8 ministers added they were concerned about Iran's ballistic missiles programme and its attitude towards terrorism.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who hosted the meeting, also underlined the G8s full support for the work of France, Germany and the United Kingdom to negotiate long term arrangements for Iran's nuclear programme.
The ministers agreed that for the process to continue and to build confidence, it is essential that Iran adheres to the Paris agreements and keeps all fuel cycle activities fully suspended, he said.
According to Straw, concerns were expressed by some G8 members about the preparations for and conduct of the presidential elections in Iran.
On the Middle East peace process, Rice insisted the countries of the region should not provide security environments for terrorism "or turn a blind eye on that, whether this was Syria or Iran." She claimed that Iran had not supported the peace process and continues to support terrorism.
"This is unacceptable while the elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to make progress on the peace process," she said.
The US Secretary of State was particularly critical of Syria when asked about the situation in Iraq. "Lets have no words but action from Syria to stop border activity contributing to the instability in Iraq," she said.
Iran was one of the topics along with Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process discussed at the foreign ministers' meeting, whose agenda differs from the UK's main focus on Africa and climate change at next month's G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
After talks with his Afghan counterpart Abdullah Abdullah, Straw pledged that the international community would continue its commitment to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
"We have recommitted ourselves and the international community to a long-term relationship with the people of Afghanistan and its government," Straw said.
He said that there had been "anxiety" that September's elections in Afghanistan that marks the close of the Bonn process would mean the end of the international involvement.
"There is still a very great deal to do given the legacy of the Taliban and its terrible period including prosperity, reconstruction and the issue of drugs," he said.
With Britain set to take over the leadership of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan next year, the Foreign Secretary said to be seeking continued support from his G8 colleagues for assistance in the terms of a decade or more.
Ahead of the G8 meeting, the "quartet" of the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations reviewed the Middle East peace process urged Israel to let Palestinians move more freely around occupied territories.
The Israeli regime should "take immediate steps, without endangering Israeli security ... to facilitate rehabilitation and reconstruction by easing the flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza and the West Bank and between them," they said.
The G8 foreign ministers were also briefed by the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, who now acts as a special envoy to the Middle East, on developments in the region ahead of the planned Israeli pull-out from Gaza.
He told reporters that he was encouraged by the way Israelis and Palestinians were cooperating on practical problems. "We have moved from trying to set an agenda to trying to deal with real issues," he said.
Apart from Rice and Straw, the G8 foreign ministers included Philippe Douste-Blazy of France; Russia's Sergey Lavrov, Joschka Fischer of Germany, Japan's Nobutaka Machimura, Gianfranco Fini of Italy and Jim Wright standing in for Canada's Pierre Pettigrew.
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