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    Clinton: US, Allies Will Not Back Down on Iran Nuclear Issue

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    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the United States and allies will not back down in pressing Iran on concerns that its nuclear program is weapons related. Clinton discussed Iran, and next week's London conference on Afghanistan, with the new European Union chief diplomat Catherine Ashton and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

    The fact that China did not sent a high-ranking diplomat to a big-power meeting on Iran late last week in New York has spurred suggestions that international resolve on the nuclear issue is fading.

    But in her meetings with the European officials, Clinton insisted that the United States and allies are focused and unified in their resolve to put additional pressure on Iran - in the face of Tehran's continuing rejection of overtures from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany.

    "Regrettably Iran has not responded to that engagement even as the international community's concern about the intent of Iran's nuclear program has increased. We will continue our close consultation on next steps in keeping with our dual-track approach. But let me be clear: we will not be waited-out and we will not back down," she said.

    Clinton spoke at a press event with the new European Union chief diplomat, Catherine Ashton of Britain, who earlier this month, succeeded Spain's Javier Solana in the post. She expressed frustration that Solana's contacts with Iran on behalf of the EU had yielded little.
     
    "As I have said already, very publicly, we want to have dialogue, but six years of dialogue by my predecessor Javier Solana have not brought us to the outcome that we have wished. So we do have to consider what else needs to be done, and we stand ready to do that," she said.

    Clinton said despite the level of Chinese representation, the New York meeting had been a productive step toward unified international action.

    Later under questioning with her British counterpart David Miliband, Clinton said she believes a path is open to a strongly worded new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iran, which denies nuclear weapons ambitions.

    Clinton declined to predict if such a resolution would include new sanctions but said the entire world has reason to be concerned about the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran.

    "The prospects of the instability that would potentially ensue from Iran pursuing and achieving a nuclear breakout capacity or even a nuclear weapons program would be so potentially destabilizing that there is not a country in the world that is in the neighborhood, the region, relies on the oil markets, that would not be directly affected," she said.

    Clinton, Miliband and Ashton are to attend the British sponsored conference in London next Thursday aimed at better coordination of civilian aid to the Afghan government. Milband said he expects more than 60 countries to take part.

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