6 Key Nations to Meet Next Week on Iran
Thursday, May 25, 2006; 11:17 PM
UNITED NATIONS -- Foreign ministers from six key nations will likely meet late next week to decide incentives to reward Iran if it suspends uranium enrichment or penalize the country if it doesn't, a senior U.N. diplomat said Thursday.
The ministerial meeting will follow up on Wednesday's meeting in London of political directors from the five veto-wielding nations on the U.N. Security Council and Germany who have been leading international efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear program.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Thursday that Washington was "very pleased" at the "very productive, very constructive" talks.
"They're moving closer to an agreement on the content of the package," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said.
"The package concept is a signal to Iran of what is available if they comply" with the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency including suspending enrichment _ and the alternative of "running into direct confrontation and the possibility of sanctions," he said.
The political directors are now reporting back to their foreign ministers and recommending that they meet to finalize the package of incentives and disincentives to be presented to Iran, the senior diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
The meeting will probably take place later next week and the ministers will decide the location after consultations on their schedules, the diplomat said.
At Wednesday's meeting in London, the political directors spent six hours looking at the package of incentives on trade, economic cooperation and political dealings and the possible sticks if Tehran doesn't agree to suspend uranium enrichment, the diplomat said.
If the ministers agree on the package, it will be presented to the Iranians.
There was no discussion of the three most contentious issues in a resolution backed by Britain, France and the United States to make their previous demand for Iran to suspend enrichment _ which Tehran ignored _ mandatory, the senior diplomat said.
Russia and China, which have close strategic and political ties to Iran, have questioned whether it should be mandatory, whether it should be under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter which leaves open the possibility of military enforcement, and whether Iran should be declared a threat to international peace and security.
These issues could be discussed at next week's ministerial meeting in addition to the package of incentives and disincentives, but that would be up to the ministers to decide, the senior diplomat said.
Meanwhile, the senior U.N. diplomat said the political directors were already looking beyond the resolution. At Wednesday's meeting, they also discussed what should happen next if Iran does not comply with the resolution's demands, the diplomat said.
Associated Press Writer David Stringer contributed to this report from London