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UK MPs urge US to start direct talks with Iran

London, March 2, IRNA - An influential group of British MPs Sunday called on the UK government to urge the US to reverse its policy to help resolve the stalemate over Iran's nuclear programme by holding direct talks with Tehran.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee also urged Britain to press the Bush Administration in Washington to offer a "credible security guarantee" to Iran as part of a resolution.

"We conclude that it seems very unlikely that Iran will accept the demand that it suspend enrichment before substantive talks can begin.

It feels it got little reward for its previous suspension," the committee said.

"This stalemate is in no-one's interest," it warned in a new report.

"We recommend therefore that the government urges the current US Administration to change its policy and begin to engage directly with Iran on its nuclear programme," it said.

"The absence of such engagement has deprived the international community of a significant diplomatic tool," the report by the all-party group of MPs said.

It believed that the UK government could play a vital role in helping to find a resolution and recommended it urges Washington to consider offering a credible security guarantee to Iran in return for credible guarantees over its nuclear programme.

"The UK's diplomatic presence in Iran and its close relationship with the United States put it in a good position to show leadership on this issue," it said.

The committee noted that Foreign Secretary David Miliband had met his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki on several occasions and recommended "he continues his personal diplomacy and gives consideration to visiting Iran at an early opportunity."

It believed that the current policy of trying to use the UN Security Council to impose more sanctions against Iran was not working and were "not sufficiently robust" to coax Iran into suspending its enrichment.

"We are concerned that the new political dynamic following the publication of the US National Intelligence Estimate, and underlying differences within the international community, mean future UN and EU sanctions are likely to remain ineffective," the MPs said.

They said that a "long-term solution to this crisis will need to go beyond the necessary constraints on Iran's nuclear programme by eventually working towards a wholesale recasting of its relationship with the international community, particularly with the United States and European Union."

"We conclude that the fundamental challenge of Iran's nuclear programme is one of mutual political mistrust - mistrust that is not misplaced on the part of the United States and the European Union," their report warned.

The committee also criticised that the EU was "too slow to build on Iran's suspension of enrichment activities" over two years ago. By failing to present a compelling offer to Tehran, the EU made "reaching an agreement a much more challenging task," it said.

In its conclusions, the committee also warned that the diplomacy by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, was "currently a long way from successfully achieving all its goals."

... Payvand News - 03/02/08 ... --

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