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Iran urged to halt enrichment or face isolation

Written by: Staff
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BERLIN, Mar 30 (Reuters) Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council today urged Iran to halt uranium enrichment and return to the negotiating table to resolve a showdown over its nuclear programme.

''Iran must decide between a self-imposed isolation through its continuation of enrichment...or a return to the negotiating table,'' German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

''We all hope Iran will take the opportunity to opt for a restart of negotiations. And we reiterate the call that Iran stop all enrichment activities and reopen the path to negotiations,'' he told reporters in Berlin.

Steinmeier, who sidestepped questions about eventual sanctions against Iran, added that the international community still aimed to find a diplomatic solution to the stand-off.

He was speaking after a meeting of foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the Security Council Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany.

Yesterday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a ''presidential statement'' calling on Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment work, which can produce fuel for power plants or atom bombs. It also asked the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna to report in 30 days on Iranian cooperation with agency demands.

Both Steinmeier and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dodged questions about the possible use of sanctions.

''Now a 30-day period is running and it is Iran's move.

Everything else does not belong in the public domain at the present time,'' Steinmeier said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country remained opposed to sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Tehran says it only wants civilian nuclear power, not atomic bombs as the West believes.

REUTERS SB RAI2107

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