US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran on Monday of not being serious at weekend talks about its disputed nuclear programme despite the presence of a senior US diplomat, and warned it may soon face new sanctions.
In her first public comments since Saturday's meeting in Switzerland, Rice said Iran had given the run-around to envoys from the US and five other world powers. She said all six nations were serious about a two-week deadline Iran now has to agree to freeze suspect activities and start negotiations or be hit with new penalties.
At the meeting, Iran had been expected to respond to a package of incentives offered in exchange for halting enrichment of uranium, which can be used to fuel atomic weapons. The Bush administration broke with long-standing policy to send a top diplomat to support the offer.
However, Rice said that instead of a coherent answer, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili delivered a "meandering" monologue full of irrelevant "small talk about culture" that appeared to annoy many of the others present at the table in Geneva.
"We expected to hear an answer from the Iranians but, as has been the case so many times with the Iranians, what came through was not serious," Rice told reporters aboard her plane as she flew to the United Arab Emirates.
"It's time for the Iranians to give a serious answer."
"They can't go and stall and make small talk about culture, they have to make a decision," she said adding "People are tired of the Iranians and their stalling tactics.