AFP: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated Thursday she would consult more with Russia about efforts to curb Iran's sensitive nuclear work after talks with her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated Thursday she would consult more with Russia about efforts to curb Iran's sensitive nuclear work after talks with her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.
"On behalf of our mutual concerns regarding Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, we are going to use smart diplomacy together to engage the international community," Clinton told a press conference.
"We will do so including Russia as a cooperative partner because we intend to forge a more constructive relationship," said Clinton, standing next to Kouchner during his visit to Washington.
US ties with Russia, a key player in the drive to stop Iran's sensitive nuclear work, hit a low in the last year as president George W. Bush pressed plans to expand NATO and set up an anti-missile shield in eastern Europe.
Russia and the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, and China — as well as Germany have pursued a carrot-and-stick approach to make Iran halt uranium enrichment.
But with Moscow and Beijing reticent about imposing further UN sanctions on Iran, Bush's secretary of state Condoleezza Rice organized meetings with the Europeans — without inviting Russia and China.
Kouchner, speaking to journalists after his meeting, hailed Clinton's remarks.
"If we want to talk about a certain number of issues, we must speak with the Iranians. I believe there should really be a dialogue. Now in what conditions, Madame Clinton did not specify," Kouchner said.
"And I insisted, and she agreed, she said it officially, that the dialogue includes, on Iran especially, the Russians."
He was backing President Barack Obama's plan to engage diplomatically with Iran after the Bush administration refused to enter any dialogue with Tehran before it stopped enriching uranium.
However, the Obama administration is conducting a review of its Iran policy, and has still to outline the circumstances of any dialogue.
Iran has been at odds with the West over its nuclear program which Washington and its allies suspect is cover for a weapons drive, something Tehran strongly denies.