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Iraq, Iran Dominate Davos Discussions


Efforts to bring stability to Iraq and Iran's nuclear enrichment program dominated discussions Saturday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. A top British official urged Iran to take steps to assure the international community about its nuclear intentions.

Speaking at a panel discussion at Davos, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sent a message to Iran on the stand-off over Tehran's nuclear enrichment program. He said Iran should come forward and offer objective guarantees that its nuclear program is exclusively for civilian nuclear power.

"The problem is one of Iran's own making, not of anybody else's," said Jack Straw . "And what we have said is that they have to provide objective guarantees that their nuclear capability is solely for civil nuclear power purposes. We're trying to help them, the Russians are trying in the background but with direct incentives, so is the United States."

Meanwhile Tehran and Moscow have agreed to a compromise plan on enriching Iranian uranium in Russia. Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki said the compromise, which would expand the number of countries participating in the plan, could satisfy U.S. concerns about its nuclear program.

The European Union and the United States are debating whether to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for breaking the seals on its nuclear facilities last month, and resuming nuclear enrichment activities.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful civilian purposes. But Western nations fear that it may be used to produce nuclear weapons.

Discussing Iraq, the British foreign secretary said Britain hoped to cut the number of its forces in Iraq this year, but only when the Iraqi government is secure.

Straw did not specify the number of troops Britain hoped to reduce. Currently, some 8,500 British troops are stationed in Iraq. Roughly 100 British soldiers have died since the war began in March 2003, along with more than 2,000 U.S. forces.