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G8 Ministers Urge Iran To Take Upcoming Talks Seriously

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the conclusion of the G8 ministerial meeting in Washington.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations are urging Iran to undertake "constructive and serious dialogue without preconditions" at this weekend’s nuclear negotiation talks with world powers in Istanbul.

Speaking at the close of a two-day meeting in Washington on April 12, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the P5+1 negotiating group -- the five UN Security Council members and Germany -- have been "receiving signals" that Iran is going to bring new proposals to the table.

She suggested the talks will be "a chance for Iran to credibly address the concerns of the international community:"

"We want them to demonstrate clearly in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition," she said.

Iranian officials have not provided details of what they plan to offer at the talks, which are aimed at ending the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful but the international community believes it is hiding a weapons program.

High Stakes

The stakes are perhaps the highest they've been in the history of talks on the nuclear issue between Iran and the international community.

Israel has suggested that it might bomb Iran’s nuclear sites if the status quo continues, and Iran has threatened to close the Hormuz Strait, a major oil shipping lane, in retaliation.

The last time Iran and the world powers -- led by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton -- sat down together, in early 2011, they could not even agree on the agenda.

The G8 foreign ministers also discussed the UN-brokered peace plan for Syria. Clinton cited the latest report from UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan that attacks by government forces have abated, but said the ceasefire is just one condition of the UN plan, which she said was not a "menu of options" for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to pick from.

Humanitarian groups must be allowed access to civilians inside the country, she said, and Assad must embrace a program of political transition.

Ministers also discussed North Korea’s imminent rocket launch, which Pyongyang says is for satellite purposes but world powers believe is a test-run for a missile launch.

Clinton urged North Korean not to engage in provocation and said UN Security Council action could follow a launch.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, dpa, and AFP
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