US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday the international community faced a "credibility issue" if it did not impose UN sanctions against Iran for refusing to abandon nuclear activities.
Rice, who is in New York for the UN General Assembly, said that Washington would continue to push the world body to impose sanctions against Iran after it failed to heed an Aug. 31 UN deadline to give up enrichment activities.
"The international community also has a credibility issue. We said as of Aug. 31 suspend [enrichment] or we will pursue sanctions. We are talking to our partners about that course," Rice said in an interview with CBS.
Rice was set to have dinner yesterday with foreign ministers from the permanent five members of the UN Security Council as well as Germany and Italy to discuss how to deal with Iran.
China and Russia, who both have veto powers on the Council, are wary of punitive measures against Iran and some of Washington's allies such as France have argued against a rush toward sanctions.
European foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has been negotiating with Iran, has also said it would be wrong to push for a sanctions resolution while he was making progress in talks with Tehran.
US President George W. Bush was to address the UN General Assembly later yesterday on Iran and other issues and was expected to push the US case for strong action against Tehran.
Asked whether the US might be prepared to speak to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is also in New York, Rice reiterated the US position that this would happen only if Tehran abandoned its nuclear ambitions.
Iran argues its nuclear work is to generate power while the US and its allies say Tehran is trying to build a bomb.
"If Iran is prepared to suspend that, we will be prepared for the first time in decades to sit down across the table from the Iranians and talk," Rice told ABC's Good Morning America show.
"I would meet anywhere with my counterpart, at any time, once they have suspended enrichment and reprocessing," she added.
Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that Iran wanted to make suggestions on how to "manage the world," ahead of a key address to world leaders at the UN General Assembly.
Ahmadinejad told Iranian reporters after arriving in New York that the world faced numerous threats and "you cannot find anyone who can decisively say the human race has a clear future."
But he said on the tarmac of John F. Kennedy international airport in remarks broadcast on state television that Iran has "very clear and transparent views about how to the manage the world."
"The Islamic Republic of Iran and our people has an efficient system on how to manage the world and will suggest it and will discuss it," he added, without specifying if he would be referring to this proposal in his speech.
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