Monday, July 21, 2008
Iran has two weeks to respond seriously to an international offer to halt its sensitive nuclear work or face further “punitive measures,” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned.
Flying to the Middle East on Monday, Rice sought to tighten the screws on Tehran after taking the unprecedented step of sending a top US diplomat to meet Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili at international talks in Geneva.
Until Saturday, the United States had refused to sit with Iran at such talks until it stopped enriching uranium, but changed course to show it was going the extra mile for a diplomatic solution.
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The meeting sent a “very strong message to the Iranians that they can’t go and stall … and that they have to make a decision,” Rice told reporters on her flight to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“It clarifies Iran’s choices and we will see what Iran does in two weeks. But I think the diplomatic process now has a kind of new energy in it,” Rice said.