Iran Maintains Nuclear Position At U.N. Dinner

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said there was a "frank and professional exchange" between U.N. diplomats and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the dinner. But, he said, Iran offered nothing new during the meeting.

A rare dinner meeting between U.N. Security Council members and Iran did not seem to break the deadlock over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said there was a "frank and professional exchange" between U.N. diplomats and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at a dinner the Iranians organized in New York. But Crowley said the U.S. representative, Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, heard nothing new from Iran.

"We see this as yet another missed opportunity by Iran to meet its international obligations," Crowley said.

The U.S. is working with other Security Council members on a fourth round of sanctions on Iran that, Crowley said, will move forward in the coming weeks.

The council's five permanent members -- the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France -- along with Germany are holding talks on the issue.

Mottaki invited diplomats from all 15 members of the Security Council to the two-hour dinner in what was seen as Iran's latest high-profile attempt to head off additional penalties over its nuclear program.

Western diplomats said it was a rare move. For the U.S. and Iran, which do not have diplomatic relations, it was one of the highest-ranking contacts in recent years.

Mottaki said Iran would not suspend uranium enrichment, a U.S. official familiar with Thursday night's meeting told The Associated Press. The foreign minister said that position was firm and would not change even if Iran accepted a proposal to send uranium from a medical research reactor in Tehran abroad for reprocessing, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The U.S. and other Western countries accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program. Iran denies the charge.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined a conference call with senior officials from Britain, France, Germany and the European Union to go over details of the possible new sanctions.

Russia and China hope diplomacy will lead Iran to the negotiating table, and have indicated they will only agree to much weaker measures if Tehran refuses.

Lebanon holds the council's rotating presidency this month; the other nonpermanent members are Austria, Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey and Uganda.

In addition to discussing the nuclear impasse, Crowley said Wolff had handed Mottaki letters from the families of three American hikers now detained in Iran appealing for their release.

He also passed on a letter from the family of a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran three years ago, seeking information about his fate.

NPR's Michele Kelemen contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press

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