World News

World powers to meet to discuss Iran next month

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to verses from the Koran before he speaks at a news conference in Tehran, January 15, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

LONDON (Reuters) - Representatives of six major powers are expected to discuss Iran’s nuclear program next month, their first meeting since the new U.S. administration took office, Russia’s ambassador to Britain said on Wednesday.

“Political directors are scheduled to meet at the beginning of February in Berlin. That will be the first meeting this year. They will brainstorm the opportunities of further action with regard to this issue,” Yuri Fedotov told reporters.

Western countries fear that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic program. Iran says it only wants to master nuclear technology to generate electricity to meet its growing power needs.

The group of six countries -- Russia, the United States, China, Germany, Britain and France -- have obtained several rounds of U.N. sanctions against Tehran while pushing for further talks.

French daily Le Monde reported this week that France and Britain were spearheading an effort within the European Union to pass new sanctions, but with limited success.

New U.S. President Barack Obama has talked of incentives, as well as tougher sanctions if Tehran does not halt its nuclear work. He has said he is ready to deal directly with Iran, something his predecessor largely rejected.

A spokeswoman in the German Foreign Ministry said she could not confirm a date for a meeting, but said the six political directors had regular meetings to discuss the Iran issue.

Reporting by Adrian Croft in London and Noah Barkin in Berlin; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Jon Boyle