World powers set to discuss Iran sanctions Tuesday
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World powers will hold talks on Tuesday over finalizing the text of a third U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran which could be voted on in the coming weeks, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday.
Speaking at a women's foreign policy forum in Washington, Rice said political directors from the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China would hold a conference call on Tuesday to discuss Iran.
"They are working on finalizing the Security Council resolution -- the text of one -- that will then be sent to the Security Council to be voted sometime in the next several weeks," said Rice.
Tuesday's conference call follows a U.S. intelligence estimate last week which said Iran had given up its nuclear weapons program in 2003, an announcement that dampened enthusiasm among skeptics Russia and China for more sanctions against Tehran.
Asked whether she thought Russia and China would support new sanctions, Rice said "most" states supported the U.S. move for greater pressure on Iran.
"I have found that most states have found that we have the right strategy and the key is still to get Iran to stop its enrichment and reprocessing so that we can begin negotiations to meet the legitimate need for civilian nuclear power."
She repeated an offer by the United States last year to meet her Iranian counterpart if Tehran suspended sensitive nuclear work that the West believes is aimed at building an atomic bomb.
Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian power purposes.
"If Iran will cease its enrichment -- suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities -- I am prepared to meet my counterpart anywhere, any time, any place to talk about whatever is on his mind," said Rice.
(Reporting by Sue Pleming; Editing by Sandra Maler)