The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, said Wednesday they plan to enter into talks on Oct. 1 with Iran on its nuclear development program.
No site or agenda has been set.
The P5 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and Germany met on the sidelines of the General Assembly's annual general debate at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Attending the meeting were British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, the foreign ministers of China, France and Russia, Yang Jiechi, Bernard Kouchner and Sergey Lavrov, German state secretary of foreign affairs Reinhard Silberberg, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The European Union's high representative for foreign and security affairs, Javier Solana, also attended the session.
Their announcement was made outside a basement conference room just below where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was waiting to speak to the General Assembly.
In his speech, he made no mention of the crisis caused by his nation's enrichment of nuclear fuel, which many nations, especially European Union members, fear is part of a military program. Tehran denies the charge, saying the fuel enrichment is strictly for peaceful purposes.
Only last week the administration of US President Barack Obama decided to shelve a missile shield program in Eastern Europe instituted by the administration of former US President George W. Bush, which had greatly annoyed Russia. The US said the planned system was to protect the West from Iranian missile attack.
Also last week Solana brokered by phone a meeting between Iran and council members, including the United States.
Obama had said since coming to office he believed in a two-track approach -- both sanction and engagement.
"We've had a very constructive and useful meeting," said Miliband for the group, also known as the E3+3 for the three members of the European Union plus the three members of the Security Council.
Lavrov and Yang excused themselves and left before Miliband started reading the statement.
All participants said they endorsed the statement.
"Iran's nuclear program remains of serious concern to the international community," the statement said.
"We acknowledge the recent measures taken by Iran regarding its cooperation with the IAEA (the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency), and encourage Iran to cooperate further with the IAEA to resolve the remaining issues which need to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," the statement said.
"We urge Iran to implement all measures by the IAEA and the UN Security Council to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program at the earliest possible date," Miliband read out from the prepared statement.
"We have consistently stated that we want to negotiate a comprehensive long-term agreement to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue," he said. "But this can only be achieved if both sides are willing to approach these matters in a spirit of mutual respect and are committed to looking for solutions going forward."
The statement went on to say the P5+1 "are united in our willingness" to work with Iran on these matters, and said an Oct. 1 meeting "will provide an opportunity to seek a comprehensive, long-term and appropriate solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiation. We expect a serious response from Iran."
After Miliband read the statement, the ministers dispersed without further comment, with the exception of Clinton.
"I think it's a very powerful statement that expresses these specific agreements. First, the group remains united in pressing Iran to comply with its international obligations on its nuclear program and it has serious concerns about Iran's lack of compliance to date particularly on the unanswered questions about the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," Clinton said.
"Secondly, the countries remain united in support of a dual track of engagement and pressure as a means of persuading Iran to comply with its obligations," she said.
"Thirdly, the ministers expressed a clear expectation that Iran should come to the talks on Oct. 1 ready to engage in serious and substantive discussions with a sense of urgency and a review of the practical steps that need to be taken on the nuclear issue, and that we will decide next steps on the basis of the meeting's outcome."
There have been calls recently to increase Security Council sanctions on Iran for not complying with earlier sanctions. Clinton indicated that course may still be explored, depending on what happens in the Oct. 1 meeting.
"We are committed to this dual-track policy," she said, referring to talks and sanctions.
"No one should underestimate our intention to follow through on either or both of these tracks," Clinton said. "It depends on Iran's response and some of you have heard me say this numerous times."
"This process is now firmly up to Iran. It is Iran's choice as to how they choose to proceed and we're looking to the meeting on Oct. 1 to get a clear indication of their intentions," she added.
(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2009)