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Pacific summit exposes divisions over Iran
Obama defends efforts to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, but fails to win support of Russia and China at APEC meeting.
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2011 06:35
 Obama's call for tougher action on Iran was largely ignored by China and Russia [EPA]

China and Russia share the US' objective of ensuring Iran does not make weapons via its nuclear programme and Washington will consult with them on how to achieve that, US President Barack Obama said at the conclusion of a summit of Pacific rim nations in Hawaii.

At a press conference after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Sunday, Obama said Russia and China shared Washington’s goal of making sure Iran doesn’t build nuclear weapons. But both countries have said they oppose new sanctions.

"We will be consulting with them carefully over the next several weeks to look at what other options we have available to us," Obama said.

Defending his efforts to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, he said economic sanctions against Tehran have had "enormous bite,'' and he would consult with other nations on additional steps to ensure that Iran did not acquire an atomic weapon.

The US president added that his strong preference was to resolve the Iran issue diplomatically but he was "not taking any options off the table."

'No consensus'

At the summit, Obama met with Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao, his Russian and Chinese counterparts, to discuss a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that cited evidence, according to the UN nuclear watchdog, that Iran’s programme included research and design efforts to develop weapons capability.

Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from Honolulu, said there was "absolutely no consensus" between the leaders on how to deal with Iran following the International Atomic Energy Agency's report.

"This was President Obama's first face-to-face meeting with Hu and Medvedev since the IAEA report came out. The US believes that it needs China and Russia to get on board with sanctions and it was fairly clear ... that he did not get any reassurances," she said.

"You've heard him say that they agreed to find a common strategy. That's far from agreeing to more sanctions. What they say they're going to do now, is to wait for the board of governors' meeting at the IAEA."

Russia and China are reluctant to back the US in its push to tighten international sanctions on Iran. Both are veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council and have shown no sign that the new report will change their stand.

Iran, which said it would review its co-operation with the UN nuclear watchdog after the report, has insisted its nuclear work is in peaceful pursuit of energy and research, not weaponry.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum brings together 21 economies in an annual summit focused on economic growth, free trade and investment.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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