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Iran Rebuffed On Offer Of New Negotiations --> The EU-3: French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Brussels on 12 January (file photo) (AFP) 18 January 2006 -- Leading European Union countries, the United States, and Russia have rejected an offer from Iran for new negotiations on Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Iran to halt atomic fuel research work, which Iran resumed last week, before any fresh talks.

But Lavrov also said Russia was not yet ready to join Western moves for Iran to be referred immediately to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

China has issued a new call for the Iranian issue to be settled through negotiations, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also urged more dialogue.

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, has issued a fresh warning to Iran, saying Israel will not let anyone who threatens the Jewish state's existence obtain weapons of mass destruction.

Iran has repeatedly denied any intentions to develop nuclear arms.

The Iranian standoff is expected to be addressed during talks today in Moscow between French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and Russian officials.

(compiled from agency reports)

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