Rice: Arabs want to meet on Iran nukes

After closed door UN meeting, US secretary of state says Arab nations want to meet on "regular basis."

rice thinking ap 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
rice thinking ap 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Arab nations concerned about Iran's nuclear program want to meet regularly with the six international powers trying to ensure that it remains peaceful, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday. Rice spoke to reporters after a closed door meeting between the six countries - the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - and representatives from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. "All there expressed their concern about Iran's nuclear policies and its regional ambitions," Rice told reporters. Iran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment despite three rounds of UN sanctions, insisting it has a right to carry out enrichment to provide nuclear energy under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The US and key European nations believe that Iran's ultimate goal is to produce nuclear weapons - which Teheran vehemently denies. Rice said Tuesday's session was the first large meeting with Arab countries on the Iran issue following informal consultations last month in Sharm e-Sheikh, Egypt. "I think what really did come through here is that these are countries that have very deep interests in how this issue is resolved," she said of the Arab participants. She said the Arab states wanted meetings "on a regular basis." The six countries that have been in the forefront of efforts to ensure that Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful have offered Iran a package of incentives if it suspends enrichment and enters into talks on its nuclear program. The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions to pressure Iran to comply.