Solana: Dialogue With Iran Must Continue

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana says dialogue with Iran must continue even if nuclear talks fail. He also said the European Union regretted North Korea's announcement that it will conduct a nuclear test.

Javier Solana says negotiations with Iran have made some progress, but failed to reach an agreement on its nuclear program.

Speaking after a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Massimo d'Alema, Solana said the time for negotiations with Iran is not infinite.

"I think that even if we fail now, we should maintain the doors open to continue dialogue with Iran," he said.

Solana said talks with Iran on its nuclear program have been under way since June, but the crucial issue of Iran suspending its nuclear program has not been resolved. He added that no effort would be spared to move forward with diplomacy.

Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again rejected Western demands concerning its nuclear program. Tehran insists its nuclear program is meant only to produce fuel for energy. Several nations, including the United States, believe Iran's nuclear program may be used to make weapons.

France has called for sanctions against Iran if uranium enrichment is not suspended. But Russia, and others, are opposed to sanctions. The Iranian president has warned the West that sanctions would not stop his government from enriching uranium.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, says the six major powers would discuss the stalemated nuclear talks with Iran at a London meeting on Friday. The talks, headed by Solana, are considered a final attempt to avoid a full-blown confrontation between Iran and the U.N. Security Council.

Speaking about the North Korean nuclear issue, Solana expressed regret at the Pyongyang's announcement that it plans to conduct a nuclear weapons test.

"If it happens, there will no doubt be some decisions that will be taken at the Security Council level," he added. "And be sure that the European Union will support them."

North Korea said Tuesday it would conduct the nuclear test to defend itself against what it called increasing U.S. aggression. The United States says it has no intention of invading North Korea.