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UN, France Call For Iran Response On Fuel Plan

IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- UN nuclear watchdog chief Muhammad el-Baradei has urged Iran to respond quickly to his nuclear fuel proposal, adding that the plan was a chance for Tehran to help build confidence in its atomic ambitions.

"I therefore urge Iran to be as forthcoming as possible in responding soon to my recent proposal based on the initiative of the United States, Russia, and France, which aimed to engage Iran in a series of measures that could build confidence and trust," el-Baradei told the UN General Assembly.

Earlier on November 2, France and Germany urged Iran to accept a the proposal to enrich its nuclear fuel abroad rather than lose time by asking for a further round of talks.

The comments from Germany's new Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner came in response to Iran's request for more negotiations, which added to doubts that a compromise could be found any time soon.

"We are waiting for Iran to formally accept the agreement," Kouchner told a joint news conference, which the two held after a bilateral meeting in Paris.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has drawn up plans for Iran to send potential nuclear fuel to Russia and France for processing. Kouchner pointed out that the proposal was backed by France, the United States, Russia, and Germany.

"We are waiting for a reply. If the reply is aimed at delaying matters, as we believe, then we will not accept it," Kouchner said, adding that Iran would only be losing time by prolonging the talks.

Westerwelle cited last week's statement by European leaders pressing Iran to accept the deal.

He said he had nothing to add to the common position adopted by the leaders, who promised Iran that progress on the nuclear fuel deal would open the way to cooperation with the EU.

With regard to Westerwelle's new appointment, the two ministers also said they would seek a joint position on crucial foreign-policy matters.