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Clinton warns Iran time not ‘infinite’ for talks



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Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday warned Iran that time was not “infinite” for diplomacy and that “all options remain on the table” after a dispute over the venue of talks.

Clinton said that the European Union would look into setting a time and place for long-moribund talks on Iran’s nuclear program but vowed that the United States would maintain “strong pressure” to address concerns.

“We want to see a peaceful resolution of the international community’s concerns, but the time for diplomacy is not infinite and all options remain on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Clinton said.

“Until Iran comes into compliance with its international obligations and demonstrates the peaceful intent of its nuclear program, they will continue to face strong pressure and isolation,” she said.

“So the sooner that we can begin talks, the better it will be,” she said at a joint news conference with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Clinton had earlier said that the talks between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — would begin on April 13 in Istanbul.

But Iran said Tuesday that it objected to holding the talks in Turkey, which cut imports of oil from its neighbor in response to US threats of sanctions.

Instead, according to Iraq’s foreign ministry, Iran has formally requested Baghdad hold the April 13-14 negotiations.

Clinton said that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was working with Iran to determine the details of the talks.

“We understand that these consultations are at an advanced stage and we expect that Lady Ashton will formally announce the date and place of the talks once it is finally confirmed,” Clinton said.

Israel has voiced growing impatience with Iran, leading to speculation it may launch a military strike. Israel and some Western officials fear that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, but Tehran says its work is for peaceful purposes.

The last round of talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group was held in Istanbul in January 2011 and ended in failure. Geneva hosted the round before that in late 2010.

Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs, is expected to represent the United States in any upcoming round of talks, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

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