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Rice Says Differences Remain on Iran Sanctions Resolution


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is conceding continued differences among world powers on a proposed third U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program. Senior diplomats of the five permanent Security Council member countries and Germany had another inconclusive telephone discussion of terms of a new resolution Thursday. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Rice is acknowledging a continuing impasse among the veto-wielding permanent Security Council members on terms of a new resolution.

But she says world powers remain united on a two-track strategy for sanctions against Iran if it continues enriching uranium, but diplomatic and other benefits if it halts such activity.

Rice spoke at a news conference here with Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier after a telephone conference call on Iran sanctions by senior diplomats of the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the so-called P5+1.

"We obviously still have tactical differences that need to be worked about timing, about what's specifically in the resolution," said Condoleezza Rice. "But I want to underscore that the two-track strategy that we have been pursuing is the correct one, and among the six, that is agreed."

The U.N. Security Council has approved two sanctions resolutions against Iran for refusing to halt its enrichment program, one in December of 2006 and the other last March.

The Bush administration and European allies have been pressing for a third and more severe sanctions measure since June.

But officials here say Russia and China have been holding back on a consensus agreement, especially since a U.S. intelligence assessment earlier this month concluded that Iran halted a covert nuclear weapons program in 2003.

Rice said uranium enrichment and reprocessing, still being pursued by Iran, remain critical factors since they can yield fissile material for either civilian power-generation or nuclear weapons.

Iran insists it is pursuing enrichment and other elements of the nuclear fuel cycle solely for peaceful purposes.

Thursday's conference call, involving Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicolas Burns and his P5+1 political director colleagues, was their second in a 10-day span. There was no immediate word on when the diplomats will confer again.

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