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Clinton: Significant Differences Remain Over Iran's Nuclear Program

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington May 24, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington May 24, 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says "significant differences" remain over Iran's nuclear program following two days of talks in Baghdad. She also says Pakistan's conviction of a doctor who helped in the capture of Osama bin Laden is "unjust."

Secretary Clinton says the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany set forth detailed proposals on all aspects of Iran's uranium enrichment during this week's talks in Baghdad. Iran, she says, put forth its own ideas, and significant differences remain.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says the two sides found "some common ground" and agreed to more talks in Moscow June 18 and 19.

Secretary Clinton says those talks will seek to address the remaining differences. "As we lay the groundwork for these talks, we will keep up the pressure as part of our dual-track approach. All of our sanctions will remain in place and will continue to move forward during this period. Iran now has the choice to make: will it meet its international obligations and give the world confidence in its intentions or not?," she said.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes. The United States and its allies suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Secretary Clinton spoke to reporters following talks with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully. They discussed NATO actions in Afghanistan, political reform in Burma, and plans for elections in Fiji.

Secretary Clinton also denounced the 33-year prison sentence handed down by a Khyber tribal court Wednesday against Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden.

"We regret both the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence. His help, after all, was instrumental in taking down one of the world's most notorious murderers. That was clearly in Pakistan's interests as well as ours and the rest of the world," she said.

Dr. Afridi was convicted of treason for running a fake vaccination campaign that helped the CIA obtain DNA samples as part of efforts to confirm the al-Qaida leader's presence in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. U.S. special forces killed bin Laden during a covert raid on that compound last May.

Secretary Clinton says Dr. Afridi's actions were in no way a betrayal of Pakistan and his treatment is, in her words, "unjust and unwarranted." She says the United States is continuing to raise his case as part of a series of issues with the Pakistani government, which include reopening supply routes to Afghanistan.

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters Thursday that the Afridi case "will be decided in accordance with Pakistani laws and by the Pakistani courts." He said the United States and Pakistan need to "respect each other's legal processes."

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