France and its allies are willing to suspend the drive to impose U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran if it takes positive steps toward resolving questions over its disputed nuclear program, France's defense minister said Friday.
Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was "very difficult to talk to Iran" because its officials may give the impression they're ready to change their stance, but then reverse themselves.
"When the factions are getting close there's a diplomatic step forward by Iran and then on the following day or three days later, when we think we're going to get into the talks once again, they step back and they stiffen on behalf of the Iranian government or president," she said.
Security Council diplomats have said they expect to introduce a draft U.N. resolution next week imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. European Union foreign ministers said after a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday that they have no choice but to back diplomatic talks at the United Nations about sanctions on Iran.
Iran was offered a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has refused
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, warned on Wednesday that a U.N. resolution would wreck any possibility for a compromise to resolve the standoff over the country's nuclear program.
Alliot-Marie appeared to give little hope that Iran would reverse itself, though she left the door open.
"It is only insofar as there are steps forward that we will accept to stop the path to sanctions," she said. "If Iran does display good will, France and France's partners are ready to suspend the procedure in front of the Security Council. The only condition is that there are indeed steps forward."