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Leading Countries Agree on New Iran Nuclear Sanctions Resolution


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterparts from five other leading powers Tuesday agreed in Berlin on a U.N. resolution against Iran over its nuclear program. Details of the resolution have yet to be released, but diplomats say it will strengthen and expand existing sanctions. VOA's Josh Ward reports from Berlin.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after the meeting the two-hour session was filled with "intense and not totally easy discussions."

He told a news conference Germany, France and Great Britain would submit the draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council for debate in the next few days.

Steinmeier also directly addressed Iran, urging it to take action now that would make the sanctions unnecessary. "Once again and with all urgency, we are making a common appeal to the leadership in Tehran to abide by the demands of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency without reservations. And I also say to Tehran that the choice is theirs whether they wish to cooperate and seek a resolution," he said.

The German minister spoke on behalf of the top diplomats from France, China, Russia, the United States and Britain, the so-called P5 Plus 1.

The U.N. Security Council has already approved two sanctions resolutions against Iran in the last 13 months for refusing to halt it uranium enrichment program. Iran insists that its nuclear activities are are solely for peaceful purposes. But the United States and other western nations maintain Tehran has a nuclear arms program.

Details of the new resolution's content were not released, but diplomatic sources in Berlin say it would tighten travel restrictions and asset freezes on targeted Iranian officials.

Steinmeier said all six countries at the meeting stood jointly behind the "double approach" of providing Iran with incentives to scale down its nuclear ambitions while at the same time firmly insisting on cooperation with international demands to do so. He said the diplomats sought cooperative solutions rather than confrontation.

The United States and its European allies have been pressing for more severe sanctions against Iran since last June. But Russia and China have opposed tougher economic measures and their opposition reportedly hardened last month after the release of a U.S. intelligence assessment that Tehran halted its secret weapons program in 2003.

Steinmeier said the P5 Plus 1 countries will continue working on details of the U.N. resolution in the coming days.

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