Germany: Iran Has Crossed Nuclear 'Red Line'
The leaders of Germany and Britain have discussed ways to increase diplomatic pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted British Prime Minister Tony Blair for talks in Berlin Friday...


By Michael Drudge, VOA London
Posted Saturday, February 18, 2006

  
Germany: Iran Has Crossed Nuclear 'Red Line'
Tony Blair and Angela Merkel.


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The Blair-Merkel meeting focused on what steps can be taken to break the stalemate between the international community and Tehran over the Iranian nuclear program.

After their talks, both leaders stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to the impasse, as Mrs. Merkel explained.

"Germany, France and the United Kingdom have indeed worked very closely together, and gave a very important contribution to the international community, making it very clear that Iran has crossed a red line," Merkel said. "And, we also exchanged to what degree diplomatic efforts have to be made, in order to impress on Iran what sort of steps it has to take, in order to make cooperation with it possible again."

Neither leader provided details of what measures they discussed. In earlier negotiations with Iran, the European countries have held out economic and political incentives, if Iran abides by its non-proliferation commitments.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council earlier this month, after Iran resumed uranium fuel enrichment activities.

Iran says it wants to build a peaceful civilian nuclear power plant, but the United States and the major European countries suspect Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon.

In another development from the Blair-Merkel talks, the leaders set three conditions for Hamas as it prepares to take over government of the Palestinian Authority, which Mrs. Merkel laid out in detail.

"First they have to resist the use of force," she said. "Secondly, they have to respect the right of Israel to exist. And thirdly, they have to accept the steps that have been taken so far in the overall peace process. And we think it is only right if Europe clearly and unequivocally states what sort of conditions have to be met, in order to make further progress in the peace process."

Mr. Blair said the international community will be anxious to help the Palestinians build a viable state, when and if they renounce violence and accept Israel's existence.

On a separate issue, Mr. Blair was asked if Britain's policy on the U.S. detention of what are called "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had changed after a Cabinet colleague had called for the camp to be closed.

Mr. Blair restated his earlier stand that Guantanamo is, as he puts it "an anomaly". He says it will have to be dealt with sooner or later. He spoke one day after the U.N. Human Rights Commission said the Guantanamo inmates either should be tried or released. The United States rejects the U.N. report.


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