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US wants no confrontation with Iran, says Rice

The US secretary of state says Washingon has no desire to lock horns with Iran.

world Updated:

The United States has no desire to lock horns with Iran and is still ready for talks if Tehran halts its controversial nuclear activities, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

"Let me just say here publicly, the United States has no desire for confrontation with Iran. None," Rice told CNN before heading back home after a trip to the Middle East and Europe.

"The option that we have is to continue to try to convince those who are reasonable in Iran, that the course they are on is destructive," Rice said.

Her comments came ahead of a UN report that is likely to conclude that Iran has failed meet a UN Security Council demand to halt uranium enrichment. They also came with two US aircraft carrier groups deployed in the Gulf region.

In the interview, Rice also reiterated the US willingness to talk to Iran if Tehran first halts its uranium-enrichment program that Washington believes is aimed at producing an atomic bomb.

"It is an offer I would renew today," the chief US diplomat said when asked about the possibility of discussions.

In 2005, Rice offered Iran direct talks on the turmoil in Iraq with the then-US ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad. The discussions never materialized and Washington cooled on the idea last year.

Washington and Tehran have been at odds for nearly 30 years and have no diplomatic ties, but had occasional contact through the United Nations or multinational forums such as deliberations on the future of Afghanistan.

In Berlin, Rice said Thursday that world powers planned to refer Iran back to the Security Council in an attempt to halt its sensitive nuclear work and resume negotiations.

First Published: Feb 22, 2007 18:44 IST