Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obama, Sarkozy Discuss Iran Nuclear 'Compliance'

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US President Barack Obama and his French counterpart discussed Tuesday ways to bring Iran "into compliance" with UN resolutions on its nuclear program ahead of diplomatic talks, the White House said. "The two leaders discussed the status of diplomatic efforts to bring Iran into compliance with its international obligations on its nuclear program," a statement said after Obama spoke by telephone with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The call came ahead of an October 1 meeting between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany set to test Tehran's readiness to discuss concerns over its nuclear program, which Western governments and Israel suspect is a cover to build an atomic bomb. Iran maintains the program aims to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions against Iran over its refusal to freeze its uranium enrichment activities.

And Washington has threatened to push for new sanctions if engagement with Iran fails. The six powers -- which represent the five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- had called for urgent talks with Iran after it handed over proposals for talks last week. Washington expressed disappointment with the package, saying it was "not really responsive to our greatest concern" -- the nuclear issue -- but Moscow said it offered "something to dig into." The upcoming meeting represents a "fulfillment" of Obama's pledge to engage with the Islamic Republic despite three decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "We have made clear to the Iranians that any talks we participate in must address the nuclear issue head on. It cannot be ignored," even though Tehran has so far ignored such appeals, she added. (Read more...)