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middle east - do not use

Clinton seeks Arab backing for tougher Iran sanctions

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-15

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Doha said Tehran had left "the international community little choice" but to set tougher sanctions over its nuclear plans. Clinton is visiting the Gulf region to seek greater Arab backing on Iran.

REUTERS - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Iran on Sunday to reconsider its “dangerous” nuclear policy, saying Tehran’s stance left the world little choice but to impose “greater costs”.

Clinton, who is seeking more Arab diplomatic pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, told a U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha that Washington wanted a peaceful solution.

"I would like to figure out a way to handle it in as peaceful an approach possible, and I certainly welcome any meaningful engagement, but ... we don’t want to be engaging while they are building their bomb," Clinton said.

U.S. President Barack Obama has made little headway in his effort to restart Middle East peace talks—another focus of Clinton’s trip—or persuade Iran to rein in a civil nuclear program which the West and many Arab states suspect is a cover to develop atomic weapons.

"Iran leaves the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps. Together, we are encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions."

The United States is leading a push for the U.N. Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran.

Clinton, also due to visit Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah on Monday, said the Obama administration had pursued extensive efforts to build a more constructive relationship. She also urged Iran to respect the rights of its own people.

U.S. officials have hinted that one way Saudi Arabia could help diplomatically would be to offer China guarantees it would meet Chinese oil requirements, a step that might ease Beijing’s reluctance to impose further sanctions on Iran.

China, which wields a veto on the Security Council, has lucrative commercial relationships with Iran and, along with Russia, has worked to dilute previous sanctions resolutions.

Peace talks

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that Iran was close to enriching uranium nearly pure enough for atomic bombs, but reiterated it was not interested in acquiring nuclear weapons. Clinton said Iran had refused to demonstrate that its nuclear programme was entirely peaceful.

"What does Iran have to hide? Why is Iran refusing to live up to its international obligations, which would lead to political and economic integration with the international community that would actually benefit its people?" she said.

Aides have described Clinton’s Doha appearance as a sequel to Obama’s June speech in Cairo, in which he called for an end to a « cycle of mistrust and discord » between the United States and the Muslim world and sought to pave the way for better ties.

While Obama’s speech was well received by many, there has been deep unhappiness among Arabs at his inability to get Israel to stop building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"This is hard work," Clinton said. "I know people are disappointed that we have not yet achieved a breakthrough."

"But we must remember that neither the United States nor any country can force a solution. The parties must resolve their differences through negotiations," she added.

A year of U.S. diplomatic efforts has so far failed to revive talks aimed at ending the six-decade conflict through a peace treaty that would create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Having failed to get Israel to undertake a total settlement freeze or to get Arab states to take confidence-building steps such as reopening Israeli trade offices as a first step toward negotiations, Washington now simply wants to get talks going.

Clinton planned to discuss how Arab states might give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas political cover to help him resume peace talks despite the absence of a full settlement freeze.

Date created : 2010-02-15

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