News and Information

Attacking Iran 'not on US agenda'
February 4, 2005

Ms Rice will also meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders

Condoleezza Rice has insisted that attacking Iran is not on the US agenda "at this point in time".

She was speaking in London following meetings with Tony Blair and Jack Straw, on her first overseas trip as US secretary of state.

She said the US would use diplomacy to deal with Iran's nuclear programme.

But she attacked its human rights record and claimed it was harming prospects for peace in the Middle East by supporting terrorism.

Diplomatic tools

Ms Rice described the half hour meeting with Mr Straw and Mr Blair as "productive" and hailed the strength of the US/UK friendship, saying America had "no better friend and no better ally".

We have many diplomatic tools still at our disposal and we intend to pursue them fully

Condoleezza Rice on dealing with Iran

America's tough rhetoric

Asked if she envisaged circumstances in which the US would attack Iran, she said: "The question is simply not on the agenda at this point in time."

She added: "We have many diplomatic tools still at our disposal and we intend to pursue them fully."

But she said the Iranian people "deserved better", and condemned the regime's "abysmal human rights record".

Healing divisions

Attention has been focused on Iran's civilian nuclear programme amid fears that the Tehran regime is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Mr Straw hailed efforts by the UK, Germany and France to secure a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, insisting that Washington had been "very supportive of the process".

He later told BBC's the World At One: "As Condoleezza Rice and indeed President Bush have said, they are backing the diplomacy which is being led by France, Germany and the UK."

As a result of agreements reached, all of Iran's uranium enrichment and related activities, apart from some "very limited compliance", have been suspended, he said.

On Iraq, Mr Straw highlighted the success of the country's recent elections as helping heal world divisions over the war.

Peace talks

"The success of the Iraqi elections were celebrated, not just by the coalition and the Iraqi people, but by those too who questioned the military action which the US, UK and other partners took," he said.

Ms Rice's week-long tour of Europe and the Middle East includes talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

She said there was "a greater opportunity now for progress" on peace talks since the appointment of new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

She also confirmed her attendance at a Palestinian conference in London next month.

During the rest of the trip, Ms Rice is expected to give a staunch defence of President George Bush's stated aim of spreading freedom and democracy around the world in what is seen as a bid to mend relations with nationals opposed to the Iraq war.

Whistle-stop tour

A more contentious issue may be Britain's support for moves by France and Germany to lift the EU arms embargo on China imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre of student demonstrators in 1989.

Ms Rice has warned of the dangers of sending the "wrong signal" on human rights.

Her whistle-stop tour is scheduled to include stops in Belgium, Luxembourg, Turkey, Italy and Poland.

Ms Rice will round off the trip by making a major speech on US-EU relations in Paris.


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