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Europe

Six-Nation Meeting on Iran Stresses Diplomacy

Senior diplomats from five permanent members of the UN Security council met with their German counterparts to talk over a common strategy toward Iran. The carrot, they think, is a better option than the stick.

Atomic symbol with Iranian flag in background

The US has said it will work more closely with other countries to address the Iranian issue

The diplomats from the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany convened in the city of Wiesbaden on Wednesday, Feb. 4. It's the first such meeting since Barack Obama took over from George W. Bush as US president.

In a joint statement after the conference, the participants said the group had "welcomed the willingness of the US administration, as expressed by President Obama, to engage in talks with Iran."

Obama's predecessor refused to speak with Tehran directly about its nuclear program, which Washington, and other European capitals, fears could be aimed at producing atomic weapons.

The group emphasized their commitment to a "diplomatic solution" and urged Iran to cooperate with the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In an interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, encouraged Tehran to "seize the chance" for direct talks.

At the same time, a foreign ministry spokesman said it would be a "miscalculation" for Iran to interpret Obama's willingness to talk as a "sign of weakness."

US Under-Secretary of State William Burns said the Obama administration was reviewing America's policy toward Iran and would keep the other countries apprised of any changes.

Acute concerns

The Safir Omid (Hope Envoy) satellite rocket before its lunch

The launch of the Safir Omid rocket didn't exactly ease tensions

The group said Iran's launching of its first home-built satellite on late Monday did not affect the substance of the talks.

But that launch, which first became widely public on Tuesday, has stirred up old fears about Tehran's intentions and that Iran could master rocket technology necessary to fire ballistic missiles.

"This action does not convince us that Iran is acting responsibly to advance stability or security in the region," White House press secretary Robin Gibbs told reporters.

"Efforts to develop missile delivery capability, efforts to continue on an illicit nuclear program, or threats that Iran makes toward Israel and its sponsorship of terror are of acute concern to this administration," Gibbs added.

Many fear that Iran, if it did develop nuclear weapons, would use them against Israel since leading members of the current Iranian government have called for the destruction of the Jewish state.

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