Amman, Jordan, Aug 31, IRNA-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday that efforts are underway to arrange a meeting between Iran and the Group 5+1 over Iranian nuclear programme.
He told a press conference in Shuneh, Jordan that preparations are being made to organize a meeting between Iran and the other six players.
The Group 5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council: US, Britain, China, France, Russia plus Germany) have offered Iran a package of incentives calling for a stop to production of fuel for nuclear power plants.
Iran gave a reply to the package on August 22 and said that the package would serve as a basis for negotiations to settle differences with the European states.
"The situation is in the hands of the Security Council, now that the deadline (August 31) has passed. I know that the council is going to act tomorrow," Annan said.
Iran has made objection to the Security Council referral of national nuclear program which has been made as per intensive lobbying and propaganda campaign of the United States.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said earlier that Iran respects Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and demands its rights stipulated by the NPT.
He said that Iranian nuclear program is transparent and has been designed for generating electricity in line with Safeguards Agreement of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and that cameras of the UN nuclear agency are installed on all Iranian nuclear sites monitoring them.
Asked about possibility of imposing economic sanctions, Annan said, "I am not sure that they are ready to take that kind of action," Annan said.
"I would need to discuss with the players to find out how are they intending to proceed," Annan said.
"The lines of communication between Solana and Larijani were always open and are open today also," sources in Solana's office told IRNA in Brussels.
"The two men have decided to meet face-to-face but we do not know as yet when and where," said the sources speaking on condition of anonymity.
Paris, Aug 30, IRNA-French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Wednesday that doors should be kept open for dialogue on Iran's peaceful nuclear program.
Addressing the annual meeting of French ambassadors, Villepin said Iran's response to the West's proposed package, especially the part related to suspension of the enrichment activities, had not been satisfactory, adding that under such a condition, it will be highly important for the international community to remain united and strong, while keeping the doors open for possibility of any kind of talks with Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran considers its reply to the West's package of incentives as 'transparent', emphasizing continuation of peaceful nuclear activities.
Iran had last week also proposed to the West to hold negotiations on its nuclear case but the West conditioned resumption of the talks on suspension of uranium enrichment by Tehran.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on Tuesday said his country is ready for resumption of talks with Iran.
French President Jacques Chirac had earlier said room of dialogue with Iran is open.
The lack of unanimity of the Security Council -- and the hope that Tehran may yet agree to suspend enrichment -- are the chief reasons why the EU is set to keep the contacts going, said the paper quoting diplomatic sources.
"The 31 August date is important because that was the date set by the Security Council," said a senior European diplomat.
"But that doesn't mean we can't continue any exchanges with the Iranians. We will be available to talk to them, there are things we are ready to pursue." He stressed that the EU would not enter into formal negotiations with Iran while Tehran continued to enrich uranium, and added that the EU would seek to pursue "two tracks in parallel" -- continuing contacts while seeking to impose "incremental" restrictive measures on Iran.
Beijing and Moscow have agreed to "work for" economic sanctions against Tehran if Iran fails to meet today's deadline, but in recent days both have emphasized that such a step may be premature, said The Financial Times, which is printed and distributed simultaneously in several European cities including Brussels.
Ali Larijani, Iran's top security official, said on Sunday that the passing of the UN deadline would not mean "the end of diplomacy." 260/2321/1414
"Sanctions against Iran would fail to achieve the aims of the international community and do more damage than good," said Alex Bigham, Iran analyst at the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) in London.
He said that trying to isolate Iran through trade and economic restrictions would only boost government coffers as oil prices rise and damage the chances of a negotiated solution.
"Imposing sanctions is like trying to shoot Iran through your own foot. You might cause some damage, but you would hurt yourself more.
The effect on countries such as Germany, Japan and China who rely on Iranian oil could be very harmful," Bigham warned.
The warning from the analyst at the FPC, set up by Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government, coincided with the deadline set by the UN Security Council, which is demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment even though it is permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The director of the center, Stephen Twigg, who is one of Blair's former ministers, said that despite the deadline, "we must again make the case for serious engagement between the international community and Iran."
"A case, surely, that has been strengthened by the appalling events in Lebanon and northern Israel over the summer," said Twigg, who was also a former chair of Labour Friends of Israel.
"The risks of engagement are real but a good case can be made that the risks of not engaging with Iran are greater -- sanctions and isolation have not brought any positive change," he said.
"My instinct on this is that the US is not going to be able to settle the Iran question unilaterally," said Greenstock, who was Britain's top envoy in New York during the build-up to the Iraq war.
"That must be done multilaterally," he said.
In an interview with BBC Radio Four's Today program on Thursday, he also suggested that any thoughts by America to try and overthrow Iran's elected government by supporting dissidents was "not credible."
The Iranian people "are persuaded, not without reason, that there is an outside force against them," said the envoy, who also served as the UK's special representative to Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.
"They are more united with the greater the pressure seems to be from the US," he added.
Speaking on the same program, former US assistant defence secretary Richard Perle believed that the US would not get support for "tough sanctions" to be imposed against Iran.
Perle also served as the chair of the Defense Policy Board's Advisory Committee during President Goerge W Bush's first term.
Greenstock argued that cooperation from Russia was "extremely important" as well as "diplomacy with Iran" to resolve the stand-off as it was bigger than just the nuclear issue.
Russia, he said, likes to be treated as an "equal partner" to the US on this issue.
He suggested that Moscow was "hankering again after some elements of superpower status."
The former British ambassador believed that Moscow "will respond to a comprehensive, reasonable, diplomatic approach," but warned that this would be "difficult to construct."
His comments came as the International Atomic Energy Agency was due to submit a report to the UN Security Council on whether Iran has complied with its demand to suspend uranium enrichment even though it is permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
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