Monday, January 24, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Straw flies to US for talks on Iran

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Straw flies to US for talks on Iran: "Straw flies to US for talks on Iran

Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Monday January 24, 2005
The Guardian

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, was due to fly to Washington last night for talks with Condoleezza Rice, who is due to be confirmed this week as secretary of state, on tackling Iran's alleged covert nuclear weapons programme.

Ms Rice has indicated that she intends to take a much tougher line towards Iran than that pursued by Mr Straw and the rest of the EU.

Britain, France and Germany are in negotiations with Iran aimed at securing its agreement not to pursue a uranium enrichment programme which would enable it to make a nuclear bomb.

Iran consistently denies that it wants a bomb, but the US is sceptical about Iran's claims and the EU's diplomatic efforts.

It would like to see Iran referred as quickly as possible to the UN security council with a view to imposing economic sanctions. Israel has raised the possibility of bombing Iran's nuclear plants.

A Foreign Office source travelling with Mr Straw denied that the US privately supported the EU talks as a means of adding pressure on Tehran.

Mr Straw's list of topics for discussion with Ms Rice is topped by developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the FO says. He also wants to discuss the Iraq elections and the EU plan to lift its arms embargo on China, which the US opposes."

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