China, Russia, Asians say Iran talks a must
Shangai, May 15: China, Russia and four central Asian states today warned that attempts to end the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme other than through talks would lead to unwanted results.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) groups the formerly Soviet-controlled states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with regional giants China and Russia.
''Iran is an independent country and we think this matter only can be solved through negotiations,'' Tajik foreign minister Talbak Nazarov, who was speaking on behalf of the SCO, told a press briefing in Shanghai.
''If other measures are used to solve the Iran nuclear issue, this will not give the intended results,'' he said, without elaborating.
Founded in 2001 from a looser association set up in 1996, the group is seen by some -- in Moscow at least -- as a balance to US influence in the region.
Britain, France and Germany, backed by the United States, Russia and China, are to unveil a package of inducements and penalties for Iran depending on whether it cooperates or resists Western calls that it halt uranium enrichment.
Iran says its nuclear programme is merely for peaceful power generation.
The SCO's comments came as the United States dismissed calls on Sunday for direct talks with Iran on the issue, saying the United Nations was the best forum for those discussions.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the United States on Friday to enter into direct talks with Tehran, as have others.