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Six-nation group wants quick resumption of Iran nuclear talks

From Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott, CNN
British Foreign Secretary William Hague planned to pass the group's message to Iran's foreign minister Wednesday.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague planned to pass the group's message to Iran's foreign minister Wednesday.
  • The group of six nations is called the "P5 plus one"
  • It is the five permanent members of the U.N. Security council plus Germany
  • The group is pushing Iran to resume talks about Tehran's nuclear program
  • Iran
  • Diplomacy
  • Nuclear Energy

New York (CNN) -- The six world powers trying to negotiate with Iran say they want an early resumption of talks to resolve the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Wednesday with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany to discuss how to proceed with diplomatic dialogue with Iran and implementation of existing sanctions on Iran.

"We reaffirmed our determination and commitment to seek an early negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and focused our discussion on further practical steps to achieve it at an early date," the group, known as the "P5 plus one" -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany -- said in a statement. "We look forward to Iran's positive and constructive participation in this dialogue."

The international community charges Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Tehran says the program is purely for peaceful purposes.

Since the U.N. Security Council passed a tough round of sanctions against Tehran in June, the nations have repeatedly urged Iran to return to the negotiating table with little success.

Although Iran has signaled its willingness to resume talks, it has not responded to an offer by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the intermediary with Iran, to set a date. A senior U.S. official briefing reporters after the meeting said the group was "committed to a diplomatic resolution and it remains to be seen whether the Iranians are."

"Our objective continues to be a comprehensive long-term negotiated solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, while respecting Iran's legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy," the statement said.

The United States argues that Iran is feeling the bite of additional sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union, although Iranian President Ahmadenijad told reporters Tuesday the sanctions were "meaningless."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said after the meeting he planned to pass the message from the group when he meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki later Wednesday.

"Now is the time for Iran to engage in real negotiation, in actual constructive dialogue, about its whole nuclear program," Hague said. "They should not underestimate our desire for dialogue."

The statement said the group is also willing to discuss reviving a short-lived fuel swap deal agreed to in October at the last round of talks in Geneva. Under the deal, Iran would be provided with fuel for its research medical reactor in exchange for sending most of its enriched uranium out of the country.

After initially accepting the deal, Iran backed out. During talks in May with Turkey and Brazil, Iran signaled it was willing to reconsider under modified terms.

The senior U.S. official said such a deal would have to be amended because Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium has more than doubled since the original deal was proposed in October.