U.S. rules nuclear issue out of Iran-Iraq talks
March 23, 2006, 12:00 am TWN
The United States will not discuss Iran’s nuclear ambitions in future talks with the Islamic Republic about the conflict in Iraq, a senior U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday.
Washington has authorized its ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to reach out for Iranian help to stabilize the embattled country and Tehran has since said it would be willing to discuss the problem.
“The discussions that we are prepared to conduct with authorities from Iran and our ambassador Khalilzad from Baghdad are focused on Iraq, that’s the only purpose of those,” said Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
“We have no intention to open direct negotiations with Tehran on the nuclear issue,” he told reporters in Brussels. “We support the European Union in their efforts to conduct negotiations.”
Washington believes that Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic energy program, and has been the driving force behind moves to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council.
The European Union, in particular Britain, France and Germany, has led relatively unfruitful diplomatic efforts to persuade Tehran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its investigation of Tehran’s long-hidden nuclear program.