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US stands tough on Iran's nuclear program

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, May 12 (Reuters) The United States will not hold direct contacts with Iran and insists that sanctions must be part of a new carrots-and-sticks offer being drawn up by major powers to curb Iran's nuclear activities, a senior administration official said.

Addressing an influential West Asia policy group last night, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns promised that Washington will not ''quit the diplomatic track easily.'' American experts and political figures have increasingly urged the administration to talk directly to Iran in searching for a diplomatic solution.

But Burns rejected that, saying the world must ''put responsibility where it lies'' -- on Iran, not the United States -- for defying the international community and fanning the nuclear crisis.

He warned Iran and other key players that ''we can't be captive to endless discussions in the (UN) Security Council and we won't allow ourselves to be.'' Burns stressed the need for Washington to maintain a ''hard edge'' to its policy as the international community seeks to curb Iranian activities that the United States and its allies say are aimed at producing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program. Tehran denies the charge.

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