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Rice confident of agreement to pressure Iran

Written by: Staff
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NASSAU, Bahamas, Mar 22 (Reuters) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said she was confident an international agreement would be reached on way to pressure Iran to stop enriching uranium.

''Sometimes diplomacy takes a little bit of time but we're working very hard on it,'' Rice told reporters. ''We will come up with a vehicle, I am quite certain of that. We have work to do, but this is the natural course of diplomacy.'' The UN Security Council failed to reach agreement on Tuesday on how to respond to Iran's nuclear programs.

Russia, backed by China, wants to delete large sections of a Franco-British draft statement the Security Council has been studying for nearly two weeks as a first reaction to Iran's nuclear research, which the West believes is a cover for bomb making. Iran has denied the charge.

Diplomats at the United Nations said if there was no progress soon, bilateral contacts between capitals would be the next step. Russia, they said, has taken the toughest line.

An alternative to a statement would be a Security Council resolution, which carries more weight, and would dare Russia and China to use their veto power. A statement needs agreement from all 15 members while a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no veto from any of the five permanent members.

Rice said it was important ''for the international community to speak and speak strongly to Iran that it has no other course.'' Rice was in the Bahamas to meet with 14 foreign ministers and the secretary-general of the Caribbean Community and Common Market, a regional trade bloc known as CARICOM.

REUTERS PG RS2209

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