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US Says United Nations Best Forum for Iran Nuclear Talks

  • VOA News

The White House has brushed off calls for direct talks with Iran over its suspect nuclear program, saying the United Nations is the preferred forum for those discussions.

Speaking Sunday on the Cable News Network, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said the White House backs the U.N. forum because it allows more countries to engage Tehran about its nuclear ambitions.

Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the Bush administration to join European countries in direct talks with Iran to end the standoff.

Western powers suspect Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover for developing an atomic bomb. Iran insists its nuclear intentions are peaceful.

British, French and German negotiators are drawing up a list of incentives to offer Tehran in exchange for a guarantee that Iran will suspend its uranium enrichment program.

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EU foreign ministers meet Monday in Brussels to discuss an incentives package that would also carry penalties for non-compliance. The five permanent Security Council members plus Germany are to meet in London May 19th to consider the package.

Earlier Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran will reject any European offer that requires an end to Iran's nuclear activities. He told state television that any such offer would be invalid.

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