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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Photo: AP
US 'not seeking' confrontation with Iran
State Department tries to downplay bubbling speculation over possible strike against Islamic Republic, says US would rather exercise, exhaust 'tough diplomacy' first

WASHINGTON – The American administration is trying to downplay the growing speculations regarding a nearing strike on Iran, saying it would rather exercise and exhaust "tough diplomacy" first.

 

"We have said many times that we do not seek military confrontation with Iran, but we will use any mean to put pressure on Iran to cooperate with IAEA," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Neuland told reporters on Thursday.

 

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"We are pursuing our goals with Iran by growing the community of countries to ask Iran to meet its obligations. Right now the president and this Administration, along with our international partners, are focused on tough diplomacy to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue," she continued.

 

"We continue to believe that there is still time for diplomacy, and that a diplomatic outcome is possible, and we are working toward that goal."

 

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Washington, she said, believes that "Iran's failure to cooperate with the IAEA and to fulfill its international obligations have created tensions in the region and beyond. It is Iran's responsibility to build confidence in its peaceful intent and to reduce those tensions through transparency and compliance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and its IAEA obligations."

 

'IAEA report critical'

The US stressed that a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is due next week, will be an important opportunity for the world to assess whether Iran is meeting international obligations in its nuclear program.

 

Earlier, US President Barack Obama said he had discussed his concerns about Iran and its nuclear program with French President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of the G20 summit, and both had agreed that international pressure must be maintained on Iran.

  


Presidents Obama, Sarkozy and Merkel (Photo: Reuters) 

 

"The IAEA is scheduled to release a report on Iran's nuclear program next week and President Sarkozy and I agree on the need to maintain the unprecedented pressure on Iran to meet its obligations," Obama told reporters.

 

The United States and its partners are concerned that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon capability. Tehran says the program is peaceful and is aimed at producing energy and for medical purposes.

 

Obama warned in the past that Iran would suffer the "toughest possible" sanctions as a consequence and the White House cast Obama's discussion as part of that effort.

 

"What we're focused on is a diplomatic strategy which...increases the pressure on the Iranians, through financial pressure, through economic sanctions, through diplomatic isolation," said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, in response to a question about military options toward Iran.

 

 

 

 

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