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Iran talks offer a ploy to divert pressure: US

White House said that Iran's offer to hold talks with the US on Iraq was probably a ploy to "divert pressure".

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 21:27 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

The White House has said that Iran's offer to hold talks with the United States on Iraq was probably just a ploy to "divert pressure" Tehran has drawn over its nuclear programme.

Iran waited months to agree to a US proposal to take up the issue, and did so only after Tehran's atomic programme was referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, said US national security adviser Stephen Hadley.

"The concern, therefore, is that it is simply a device by the Iranians to try to divert pressure that they are feeling in New York", Hadley told a small group of reporters on Friday.

Tehran hopes "to drive a wedge between the United States and the other countries with which we are working on the nuclear issue and, if you will, divert pressure and divert attention," he said.

A senior US official, who requested anonymity, was far blunter, calling Iran's offer "a stunt" and saying that Washington may agree merely to avoid "criticisms" that it did not do all it can to defuse bloody tension in Iraq.

The anonymous US official said that Washington also hoped to exploit apparent grumbling in Iran about hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's handling of the nuclear issue and his country's economy.

Hadley insisted that any talks should not be read as a signal that the US was softening its take on Iran, saying: "Nothing has changed in the concerns that we have about the Iranian regime."

"We don't want to, in any way, by anything we do, to legitimate this regime, particularly in the eyes of their people," he said.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 08:06 IST