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Clinton: Sanctions Slowing Iran's Nuclear Efforts

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pictured during the taping of a special episode of the Arabic ladies' talk show "Kalam Nawaem" to be broadcast on the Saudi-owned MBC-1 satellite channel at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi on 10 Jan, 2011.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says international sanctions have made it "much more difficult" for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambitions.

Speaking to university students Monday in Abu Dhabi, Clinton said the sanctions have been working, and that technological problems have "slowed down" Iran's program.

The United States and many western nations say Iran is trying to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Clinton is scheduled to meet Monday with the president of the United Arab Emirates, as well as officials from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

She is on a three-nation tour of the Persian Gulf seeking Arab support for the new Iraqi government and tougher penalties against Iran for its nuclear activities. Clinton also will make stops in Oman and Qatar.

On Sunday, Clinton told reporters that Iran "remains a serious concern" no matter when it might be able to produce a nuclear weapon. She urged countries in the region that do business with Iran "to do everything within reason" to help ensure that economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic are enforced.

Clinton did not dispute the views of Israel's newly retired intelligence chief Meir Dagan, published on Friday, that Iran may not have nuclear weapons capability before 2015.

State Department officials say she will brief Gulf leaders on U.S. expectations for the next round of nuclear talks with Iran, scheduled for late next week in Istanbul. They said the top U.S. diplomat also will discuss ways to help Gulf nations better adhere to U.N. sanctions against Iran.

On Iraq, State Department officials say she will urge more countries in the area to open embassies in Baghdad.

In Qatar Thursday, Clinton will participate in the Forum of the Future, a civil society initiative joining Arab countries and the Group of Eight industrialized countries. The forum brings together government leaders and members of non-governmental organizations.

Clinton acknowledged Sunday that one reason for her trip is to contain fallout from the release of classified diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks late last year that revealed deep mistrust of Iran by Sunni Arab leaders who must deal with an increasingly emboldened Shi'ite neighbor.

This is Clinton's second trip to the Gulf in as many months. She participated in a global security conference in Bahrain in early December.

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