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UN Chief Urges Dialogue for Resolution of Iranian Nuclear Issue


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Iran to comply with Security Council resolutions regarding its nuclear activities, after France's foreign minister warned that the world should prepare for war if negotiations fail. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

In a news conference with reporters to mark the opening of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General said the question of Iran's nuclear activities is an issue high on the U.N. agenda.

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the world should prepare for war if negotiations fail and Iran obtains nuclear weapons. That comment has sparked reaction from Russian and Chinese diplomats who have expressed concern about the possible use of force.

Secretary-General Ban told reporters that all issues relating to Iran's nuclear activity should be resolved through dialogue and in a peaceful manner. "I encourage Iran to be fully cooperative and transparent in dealing with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and to implement the work plan they have agreed with the IAEA. I sincerely hope that this agreement between Iran and IAEA will contribute to the final and overall settlement of the nuclear issue. Iran by fully complying with relevant Security Council resolutions, that is the core in addressing this issue," he said.

Some countries have called for new and tighter sanctions against Tehran, but Mr. Ban says such action is up to the Security Council.

Next week, leaders from around the world will arrive at U.N. headquarters for the annual General Assembly debate. Before they arrive, several high-level meetings are planned, including one Saturday on Iraq.

Mr. Ban and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will co-chair the meeting, which the Secretary-General says will focus on strengthening and expanding the U.N. role in Iraq. There will also be a review of the International Compact on Iraq, which lays out a series of tasks and deadlines for the Iraqi government to achieve on the economic and political fronts.

Mr. Ban told reporters he is also very concerned about the humanitarian situation in that country.

"There are huge and enormous humanitarian concerns and issues involving all these refugees coming out of Iraq. Syria and Jordan, they are experiencing very serious difficulties in accommodating all those refugees at a rate of 15,000 people per week. This is an enormous number of refugees."

Earlier in Geneva, U.N. aid agencies launched an appeal for $85 million to meet the medical needs of two million Iraqis who have fled to neighboring countries.

Also before the General Assembly debate, there will be a high-level meeting of the Middle East Quartet to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as well as separate talks on the situation in Afghanistan.

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