UN chief presses Iran on nuclear, rights disputes

Iranian President is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

New York: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday gave Iran`s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pointed reminders about international disputes over his country`s nuclear drive and human rights.

Ahmadinejad met the secretary general at the UN headquarters in his first formal engagement of his trip to New York for the UN General Assembly.

With Iran already facing four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, Ban "hoped that Iran will engage constructively in negotiations" with international powers on the nuclear showdown.

Ban said the talks should lead to "a mutually acceptable agreement in conformity with relevant Security Council resolutions”, said a statement released by a UN spokesman.

Talks between Iran and Britain, the United States, France, Germany, China and Russia have become stalled over the nuclear programme, which Western powers say is aimed at developing an atomic weapon.

Iran denies the charge though recent reports by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency have been increasingly critical of Iran`s refusal to cooperate with international inspectors.

Ban also stressed to the Iranian leader "the importance of respecting fundamental civil and political rights”.

Iran has faced a separate international outcry over the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and also received a 10-year jail term for participating in the murder of her husband.

Many Western countries have complained at the severity of the sentence.

Ahmadinejad has given interviews with US media and has other high profile appearances planned while in New York, where he is surrounded by very tight security.