UNITED NATIONS: In a surprise move, Iran invited all 15 UN Security Council members to dinner on Thursday in New York, in what will be one of the highest level US-Iran contacts since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The unexpected dinner hosted by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, comes as the five permanent Security Council members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – are considering whether to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran. Japanese ambassador Yukio Takasu said after the dinner: “We are not here to negotiate.
We are here to exchange frank, general ideas. There were no talks about sanctions.” Washington sees the dinner “as another opportunity for Iran to show the Council that it is prepared to meet its obligations and play by international rules,” a US official told a news wire agency. The dinner “is also an indication that the Iranians recognise that the efforts in the Security Council and elsewhere to get them to live up to their obligations are isolating them from the rest of the world and doing them harm,” the official added.
Meanwhile in Washington, Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning at the State Department, told diplomats and Foreign Service staff that Iran is trying all the harder to engage the international community in a bid to stop its growing isolation. “Ahmadinejad coming to the UN, the dinner last night...I read these as signs that the Iranian government is quite worried,” she said, “I read that as some sign of our success.” Washington has led the drive for three rounds of UN Security Council economic sanctions against Iran since December 2006.
Western powers suspect that Iran’s civilian nuclear program is really aimed at producing nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran vehemently denies. Iran and Western powers are at an impasse over a UNdrafted nuclear fuel swap deal for Tehran, which envisages supplying Iran with nuclear fuel in exchange for its lowenriched uranium stocks. The deal stalled after Iran insisted the two materials be exchanged simultaneously within its borders – a condition the world powers reject.
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