WASHINGTON (AFP) — The six powers debating tougher UN sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program hope to meet soon at the level of foreign minister, the US State Department said Tuesday.
"We have been working on a P5, plus 1 ministerial level meeting. I hope that we can have an annoucement for you in a not too distant future on that," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
The United States has been involved in difficult talks with Russia, China, Britain and France -- the five permanent UN Security Council members, or P5, that all have veto power -- and Germany for another UN resolution against Iran.
Washington is promoting a two-track strategy aimed at offering Iran a dialogue that would give it economic benefits if it stops enriching uranium, or at threatening a third round of punitive sanctions.
The ministerial meeting "is to talk about the elements of a resolution, about the language of a resolution and also to have a strategy session about the way forward, how to move forward after the passage of another security council resolution," McCormack said.
"We have had good conversations. I think there is still some work to be done," he said.
The political directors of the State Department and the foreign ministries of the five other countries have had a number of conference calls on the issue over the last month without reaching agreement.
Last month US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted that the United States has "tactical differences" with Russia and China about the "timing, about the nature of any further sanctions."
But she said that "the two-track strategy remains in place," when asked if the US National Intelligence Estimate, published December 3, undercut the US drive for sanctions.
The report said Iran had stopped an alleged covert nuclear weapons program in 2003. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
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