Work on sanctions against Iran continues but US ready to talk

The US is working on formulating draft resolutions at the UN to impose sanctions on Iran.

Updated: May 22, 2010, 10:09 AM IST

Washington: The US and its allies
are working on formulating draft resolutions at the UN to
impose sanctions on Iran but have still kept doors for
peaceful dialogue open, the US State Department has said.

"Work continues in New York" at the UN headquarters,
State Department spokesman P J Crowley said on progress with
regard to the draft to impose fresh sanctions against Iran,
distributed by the United States to other members of the
Security Council.

However, the US and its international partners
represented by P5 + 1 (the five Permanent members of the UN
Security Council - US, Britain, Russia, China and France; plus
Germany) are still willing to have a dialogue with Iran,
Crowley said.

But at the top of any such dialogue, Iran`s nuclear
weapons programme has to be on top, he insisted.

"It is Iran that is in defiance of many UN Security
Council resolutions. In the joint declaration, Iran has
indicated a willingness to engage the P-5+1," Crowley said.

Meanwhile, the US has insisted that Iran`s nuclear
programme will be on the top of any such dialogue. "We want to
be sure that at the top of the list of any prospective
engagement is the Iran nuclear program."

"If Iran wishes to have that engagement, and we would
welcome that engagement, it can pick up the phone and call
Catherine Ashton of the EU (European Union) and set up a
meeting," the spokesman said.

The State Department has said that Iran had an option
available for talks since Geneva meeting in last October and
if it is ready for a follow-up dialogue, the US would welcome

"We`ve made ourselves available since October and it has
been Iran that has failed to come forward and seek that
engagement," Crowley said.

Meanwhile, another State Department official accused Iran
of being sponsor of terrorism.

"It`s important not to forget that Iran remains the
foremost state sponsor of terrorism, supporting Hezbollah,
Hamas, and other terrorist Palestinian groups," said Daniel
Benjamin, Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for
Counter-terrorism, in the State Department.

The official also blamed Syria for providing political
and material support to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"In early April, we reiterated our grave concerns and
alarm to the Syrians over reports that they may have provided
SCUD missiles to Hezbollah," he said in his speech at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy.