Rice: Iran doesn't have much time
Updated: 2006-06-02 20:40
The United States warned Iran it will not have much time to respond once it
is offered an international package of rewards to encourage it to suspend
uranium enrichment, suggesting that the window could soon close and be replaced
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy
and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice listen to Britain's Foreign
Minister Margaret Beckett, from left, during a press briefing after a
meeting at the British Residence in Vienna, Thursday June 1, 2006.
"It really needs to be within weeks," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice told NBC's "Today" show, referring to the six-power package of perks or
penalties aimed at halting Iran's enrichment activities.
In separate comments on National Public Radio, Rice suggested she was ready
to meet her Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, if Tehran agreed to suspend
the activity that can be used to make nuclear arms and negotiate the details of
The package agreed on Thursday carries the threat of U.N. sanctions if Tehran
remains defiant over what the West calls a rogue nuclear program that could
produce a bomb. The United States, in a major policy shift, conditionally agreed
this week to join those talks. It would be the first major public negotiations
between the two countries in more than 25 years.
Rice met with the foreign ministers from the European nations that led talks
with Iran, which stalled last year. European Union foreign policy chief Javier
Solana, Russia's foreign minister and a deputy Chinese foreign minister also
Russia and China might join in any future talks with Iran. Both hold vetoes
in the U.N. Security Council, and the United States needs their cooperation to
seek sanctions or other harsh measures.
The formal offer of talks are expected to be made by
France, Britain and Germany ¡ª the three nations that previously negotiatiated
with Tehran. A senior U.S. state department official said he expected Tehran
would be invited to begin new negotiations "within a matter of days."