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Iran should take steps to resume N-talks: Annan

Annan expressed hope that Iran would take steps to ensure that the negotiations were "not dead" before the IAEA meeting next month.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 08:41 IST

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged Iran to take steps to resume talks on its controversial nuclear programme before the IAEA meeting next month and prevent any action that might escalate its dispute with the West.

"We need to be able to work -- resolve it, and I hope there will be no steps taken to escalate the situation", Annan said after his meeting with US President George W Bush at the White House on Monday.

Annan expressed hope that Iran would take steps to ensure that the negotiations were "not dead" before the IAEA meets in Vienna next month to decide whether to recommend UN Security Council action.

"I hope [that] between now and the time the atomic agency issues its next report, there will be indications and steps from the Iranian side to indicate that negotiations are not dead and that both sides can come back to the table and find a way out of this crisis," the Secretary General said in prepared remarks after the meeting.

His 45-minute-long Oval Office meeting with Bush touched on many areas of interest and concern including Iran, developments in the Middle East, the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, Sudan and Darfur.

But, neither Bush nor Annan revealed whether they discussed the ongoing rage in parts of the Middle East over the cartoon row.

On Hamas, Annan said the militant Palestinian organisation should abandon violence and form a political party that would work with the international community and the Israel.

"I think there is an opportunity here for Hamas to transform itself into a political party and work with the international community and the Israeli government," Annan noted while Bush said that he hoped that democracy and freedom would prevail in the region.

Darfur crisis also figured prominently in the meeting, with Annan saying that it was too early to plan the specifics of the efforts to diffuse the crisis including sending peacekeeping forces.

"Once we've defined the requirements, then we approach the governments to see specifically what each of them will do in terms of troops, in terms of equipment," Annan said.

"I'm very happy that we have agreed to work together on the Darfur issue, working with other governments from Europe and Asia and other regions to ensure that we do have an effective security presence on the ground. This is an issue where all governments have to play their role," he said.

"I think he (Bush) did agree that we need to get the right type of force on the ground and he's prepared to work with other countries and with me to make sure that we have the troops on the ground," Annan said.

First Published: Feb 14, 2006 08:41 IST