The US will continue to pressure the Iranian regime through sanctions if the upcoming P5+1 talks fail to lead to a negotiated settlement over Tehran's nuclear program, US President Barack Obama said Thursday.
Obama's comments followed a defiant speech made earlier Thursday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said that Tehran would not surrender its nuclear rights "even under the most difficult pressure."
The US president spoke via telephone about the contentious issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In a press conference, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that "both leaders expressed hope that Iran would take advantage of the upcoming P5+1 talks to address the international community’s concerns about the Iranian nuclear program."
He added that "the president and President Sarkozy agreed to continue increasing the pressure on the Iranian regime through sanctions and other measures if Tehran remains unresponsive."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed optimism that the P5+1 talks would bear fruit. Speaking at the conclusion of a G-8 meeting late Thursday, Clinton said that "we are receiving signals that (the Iranians) are bringing ideas to the table."
"We want them to demonstrate clearly in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition," she stated. "We are looking for concrete results."
Clinton suggested that the international community would only continue to pursue a strategy of diplomacy with regards to Iran's nuclear program as long as negotiations were progressing.
"I do think it is clear to everyone, certainly in the P5+1 but far beyond, that the diplomatic window for negotiations is open but will not remain open forever," she said.
Talks between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain are set to resume in Istanbul on Saturday with the major powers hoping Iran will give enough ground to continue negotiations and avert the threat of a Middle East war. They are the first such talks in more than a year.
Iran has promised to put forward "new initiatives" but has given no details.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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