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US Disappointed With Chinese, Russian Stance on New Iran Sanctions

The United States is expressing disappointment over what officials said was a lack of urgency shown by China and Russia in big-power talks on new sanctions against Iran over it nuclear program. Senior diplomats of the five veto-wielding U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany, the P5+1, discussed the issue Friday in London. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Officials here say there continues to be a consensus among the six powers on the need for further sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to halt nuclear activities believed to be weapons-related.

But they're expressing disappointment and frustration over the London meeting, in which they say neither China nor Russia appeared committed to swift action on a new U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution.

The Bush administration has hoped that the council would be able to approve a third sanctions measure this month, following reports by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei on their latest nuclear talks with Iran.

There has been no indication from either Solana or ElBaradei that Iran is ready to halt uranium enrichment and return to negotiations over its nuclear program as demanded by the Security Council.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said while the P5+1 agree on the need for a new resolution, they did not reach agreement on terms or a timetable, and that the U.S. delegate, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicolas Burns, was disappointed with the degree of commitment shown by China and Russia.

"They do not seem to have, as I understand it, quite the sense of urgency that we and the other members do about moving forward. And we believe it's appropriate at this point for us to really, again, strengthen the diplomatic efforts and to really begin to work in a little bit more earnestness on producing a resolution."

The British Foreign Office, which spoke for the six powers, said they reiterated their shared commitment to resolve the Iran nuclear through diplomatic means, and urged Iran to cooperate.

The P5+1 political directors will meet again somewhere in Europe on November 19 after hearing reports from Solana and ElBaradei on their political soundings with Tehran.

A senior U.S. diplomat who spoke to reporters here said there have long been differences among the P5+1 about the timing of new sanctions measures.

But he said Burns was frustrated that the Russian team and especially the Chinese delegation didn't come to London prepared to have a complete and detailed discussion on how to move forward.

The official stressed that the Bush administration is pursuing a multi-track diplomatic strategy focused not only on Security Council sanctions but also on penalties imposed unilaterally by the United States and jointly in conjunction with like-minded allies including Britain, France and Japan.