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French Defense Minister Calls for Positive Steps From Iran in Nuclear Dispute

  • VOA News

France's defense minister says her country and its allies are willing to suspend the drive for sanctions against Iran --- if Tehran takes positive steps toward ending the standoff over its nuclear program.

Michele Alliot-Marie told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York City Friday that it is very difficult to talk to Iran because it keeps changing its position.

She said France and its partners are ready to suspend efforts at the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran -- but that Iran needed to display goodwill.

Earlier Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated that Iran will not abandon its right to nuclear technology. Speaking in Tehran, he called U.N. Security Council decisions about Iran's nuclear program "illegitimate."

Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran will not tolerate "pressure" but remains ready for negotiations.

In Beijing Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said China will play a "constructive role" in efforts to resolve Iran's nuclear standoff with the West. Li Zhaoxing made the remark in a joint news conference in Beijing with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

China and Russia have been resisting tougher measures against Iran, while urging negotiations to end the standoff.

Iran ignored an August 31st U.N. deadline to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran denies Western charges that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons.

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