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Iranian ongoing suspension of uranium enrichment 'positive development': Rice

AFP | May 26, 2005

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday Iran's decision to keep its uranium enrichment program suspended after talks with three European Union member countries was a "very positive development."

"The Iranians are in a state of suspension right now, which is a good thing," Rice told the Bloomberg news agency, according to a State Department transcript of the interview.

"What the EU-3 did in holding to the Paris agreement, of holding to the insistence on a suspension, on holding to objective guarantees as the outcome, which we believe has got to be a permanent cessation of the sensitive activities associated with the nuclear fuel cycle, is a very positive development," she added.

On Wednesday, Iran and Europe's three negotiating nations -- Britain, Germany and France -- agreed in Geneva to keep up talks over Tehran's nuclear program, and Iran pledged to maintain suspension of its uranium enrichment program agreed in Paris last November.

Washington accuses Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civil nuclear power program.

The World Trade Organisation's 148 members on Thursday approved membership talks with Iran after the United States lifted its long-standing opposition to Tehran's bid. President George W. Bush decided in March to drop the US objection to support the Europeans' efforts.

"Our decision on the WTO demonstrates our continuing support for that effort," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

The United States had opposed Iran's bids since 1996, blocking them at 21 successive meetings of the General Council, which requires a consensus to make decisions.

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