Rice reaffirms stand on Iran


Tuesday, September 19, 2006 (New York):

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said her country hopes that European nations can persuade Iran to shelve disputed nuclear activities.

However, she warned of a "credibility problem" if the world fails to confront the clerical regime.

Rice stressed that the US will not join any negotiations until Iran has at least temporarily stopped its accelerated uranium program.

"We have said that if Iran is prepared to suspend that, we're prepared, for the first time in decades, to sit down across the table from the Iranians and talk about…Iran's entry into the international system," Rice said on ABC's Good Morning America.

When asked about a possible meeting between President George Bush and Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, she said, "The Iranians have a good chance to do that if they will just do what the international community has asked them to do: that's to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities".

Any face-to-face discussions between Iran and the United States would be the most significant warming of relations in nearly three decades of estrangement.

Rice acknowledged that talks are already underway between the European Union and Iran without preconditions. (AP)