Clinton calls on Arab world to prevent Iranian threat

ByASSOCIATED PRESS
January 10, 2011 11:28

US secretary of state accuses Teheran of trying to foment new conflict in ME to distract attention from nuclear program.




US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton

Hillary Clinton face and flag 311 AP. (photo credit:AP)

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday accused Iran of trying to foment new conflict in the Middle East to distract attention from its nuclear program. She said the Arab world must reject such attempts, sharpen enforcement of sanctions, and back Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Clinton told a pan-Arab television talk show that sanctions against Iran have slowed its progress in developing nuclear weapons. But she said the world has to keep up the pressure. She said that if Iran is able to produce a nuclear weapon, it will spark a disastrous arms race in the region.

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At the start of a three-nation tour of the Persian Gulf, Clinton also said Arab countries in particular should work to build confidence between Israel and the Palestinians so that stalled peace talks can resume.

On Sunday, in meetings with leaders in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat and Doha, Clinton said she would look for more Arab backing for the new government in Iraq and more financial support for the Palestinian Authority.

Such progress may help forestall Palestinian moves to declare statehood or seek UN action against Israel.

"We continue to believe strongly that New York is not the place to resolve the longstanding conflict and outstanding issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians," Clinton said. "We do not think that that is a productive path for the Palestinians or anyone to pursue."

Discussing the Iranian nuclear sanctions, the US secretary of state said that the world must keep pressure on Iran over its suspect nuclear program despite recent estimates that the country may be further behind in efforts to develop atomic weapons than previously thought.

Clinton told reporters accompanying her on a three-nation tour of the Persian Gulf that Iran "remains a serious concern" no matter when it might be able to produce a nuclear weapon. And she urged countries in the region that do business with Iran "to do everything within reason" to help ensure the sanctions are enforced.

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