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Rice, Australian, Japanese Foreign Ministers Welcome China on World Stage, Warn Iran

The U.S. secretary of state and the top diplomats of Australia and Japan have expressed concern about Iran's nuclear programs and discussed China's emerging power in the region. The security talks in Sydney were the first of their kind among the three nations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in praising China for its growing cooperation with its Asian neighbors.

The three wrapped up the first meeting of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue in Sydney on Saturday. The talks are billed as a way for three major democracies in the Pacific to discuss a variety of security and diplomatic concerns.

After the meeting, Downer stressed that while China was a big part of the agenda, Beijing should not fear it was being singled out.

"It's a very natural thing for Australia, Japan and the United States to meet together periodically and to talk about global and regional issues and shouldn't be interpreted as an act of, you know, conspiracy against China," he said.

His comments come after Rice had questioned China's military build-up and called for more transparency from Beijing.

The three diplomats had strong words about Iran. Their joint statement said they had discussed the need "for concerted action at the U.N. Security Council" to convince Tehran to give up efforts to enrich uranium.

The United States and many of its allies suspect that Iran has been trying to develop nuclear weapons, in violation of its international commitments. The issue is now being discussed in the United Nations Security Council - which could impose sanctions. However, Russia and China, two of the five council members with a veto, have not indicated support for anything but continued diplomacy with Iran.

The meeting covered other proliferation issues: including efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs and the recent U.S. deal to supply India with civilian nuclear technology in exchange for New Delhi placing some of its reactors under international safeguards.

Rice and her counterparts agreed to hold regular trilateral consultations on a variety issues, including counter-terrorism efforts.

The secretary of state wrapped up her latest foreign tour in Australia Saturday. She began her trip a week ago, with stops in Chile and Indonesia.

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