March 31, 2010
WASHINGTON – Six major powers negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program held fresh talks Wednesday after President Barack Obama said he wanted sanctions within weeks, a US official said.
Senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States spoke by conference call for “consultations on next steps” on pressuring Iran to stop its nuclear drive, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
“We’re in a period of intense diplomatic engagement on this issue and this call was within that context,” Toner said.
The discussion came about one week after a similar conference call in which China participated after weeks of stalling. China has been the most hesitant among the nations in supporting sanctions against Iran.
The State Department’s number three official, Undersecretary for Political Affairs William Burns, took part in the latest call, Toner said.
Obama, speaking at a joint news conference Tuesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said that he wanted tough new sanctions imposed on Iran “within weeks.”
The Security Council already has slapped three rounds of sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which the West and Israel view as a cover to build nuclear weapons.
Iran denies the charges and maintains that its nuclear program is solely geared toward electricity generation for its growing population.