Keep up the pressure on Iran, EU foreign ministers urge
PAPHOS, Cyprus -- The international community has to keep Iran under pressure over its controversial nuclear programme, European Union foreign ministers insisted on Friday, amid a lull in the negotiations with the Middle Eastern country.
The comments came as Canada unexpectedly closed its embassy in Tehran and said it was expelling all Iranian diplomats, describing the country's regime as "the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today."
British Foreign Minister William Hague said the EU should step up its sanctions on Iran, which he argued were "having a serious impact." They include a recently instituted oil embargo.
"It is vital that this issue is confronted and dealt with, but far better to do so in a peaceful way, through sanctions but also negotiations," he told reporters at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Paphos, Cyprus.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton - who has conducted the negotiations with Tehran on behalf of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - said she last spoke with her Iranian counterpart "two or three weeks ago."
The two sides last held a face-to-face negotiating session in June. Ashton described the last conversation as "long (and) substantive," saying that she had urged Iran "to look very carefully" at the offer put forward by the international community.
"We will not accept any talks and negotiations that only amount to a delay," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. "We want a political solution."
An Iran with nuclear weapons is an "unacceptable, extremely dangerous" prospect, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius added.
Tehran insists that its nuclear programme is of a peaceful nature. dpa amh hl Author: Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl
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