ElBaradei to meet Rice next week to discuss Iran

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency plans next week to urge the US administration to ease its push for tough UN Security Council action against Iran, diplomats said Friday. The diplomats, who demanded anonymity in exchange for divulging the confidential information Friday, said IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei will press Washington to moderate its stance during planned meetings with top US officials including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The initiative by ElBaradei, who has repeatedly called for negotiations instead of confrontation over Iran's refusal to give up uranium enrichment, comes at a crucial time. Top foreign ministry officials of the five Security Council nations plus Germany plan to meet Wednesday in London to review a package of planned incentives for Iran to agree to renewed talks on the issue - and penalties if it continues to insist on its right to enrichment.