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US rejects Russian proposal on Iran

By Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
March 11, 2006 11:28 IST
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In a blunt rejection of Russia's proposal for international crisis talks on the Iranian nuclear issue, the United States has said the United Nations Security Council was the only place to debate the matter now.

"The next talks are going to be at the Security Council early next week," Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters on Friday when asked about the Russian proposal for crisis talks with China, the US and European Union ahead of any UNSC action to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

"We made a deal. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an agreement with the Russian, Chinese, British, French and German leadership on January 31st that we all find Iran to be non-compliant with its International Atomic Energy Agency obligations; that we would vote together on February 4th against Iran as we all did," he said.

Burns said, "India was with us, (as also) Egypt, Russia, China that we would give Iran 30 days to reflect on its isolation. Iran's 30 days are up and it has not met the expectations of all of our countries. And so, early next week, we begin discussions at the Security Council."

"The Security Council will take up the issue of Iran and shine a very bright spotlight on it. We will ask Iran to suspend its nuclear programme and return to negotiations; and should Iran not do that, the Security Council, we believe, should take a series of graduated steps designed to increase pressure on the Iranian regime," Burns said.

State Department Acting Spokesman Tom Casey also said that from the perspective of Washington, "Where the diplomatic action is, is at the UN Security Council".

"We have been doing some consultations with the Russians on this subject, including some discussions on Friday with the P-5, which of course, includes Russia, in New York. So, again, I think our focus right now is on the process in New York and I'm bringing this up with the Security Council," Casey said.

Complete coverage: The Iran vote and after

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Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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