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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Backs Off European Allies on Iran Issue

NEW YORK -- U.S. President George W. Bush exhorted Iran to "come to the table" to discuss its nuclear weapons program while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the world would have a credibility problem if it did not confront Tehran.

Discussing the situation amid heightened activity Tuesday at the United Nations, Rice acknowledged that talks were already under way between the European Union and Tehran without preconditions.

That is a concession for the United States, which has led a drive to force Iran to choose between looming UN sanctions or talks that could reward it for scaling back its nuclear program.

"Those talks are going on now," Rice said on CBS television's "Early Show," referring to discussions between the EU's foreign policy chief and Iran's nuclear negotiator. "But we are still pursuing the path of sanctions should Iran not follow the UN Security Council resolution" demanding a temporary halt of its uranium enrichment program by Aug. 31.

Interviewed on morning news Tuesday, Rice stressed that the United States would not join any negotiations until Iran had at least temporarily stopped its accelerated uranium program.