Image: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Amir Kholousi  /  AP
Accompanied by officials, Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, arrives before his Saturday meeting with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, in Tehran.
msnbc.com news services
updated 3/26/2006 3:47:47 PM ET 2006-03-26T20:47:47

U.S. and Russian officials worked over the weekend on how best to oppose Iran’s nuclear program as the Bush administration’s efforts for U.N. action against Tehran have bogged down.

“The Iranians are defying the world’s will, and the international community needs to speak and speak with one voice,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told “Fox News Sunday.” “There are some tactical issues about how best to express that.”

Tehran has been referred to the Security Council over fears it may want to use its nuclear program to produce weapons.

The council has been at loggerheads over U.S.-led efforts to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. The United States, Britain and France support tough language calling on Tehran to return to a freeze of uranium enrichment. Russia and China, the two other permanent Security Council members, are opposed.

“We have the same views of the problem. The Russians do not want a nuclear weapon in Iraq either,” Rice said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s been very clear in everything that they’ve tried to do.”

“If the international community stays really solid here, Iran cannot stand the kind of isolation from the international community that, for instance, North Korea endures almost by choice,” Rice told NBC's Tim Russert. “We really do have a chance to solve this diplomatically.”

Rice downplays military option
When pressed on the possibility of a military option, Rice said “I believe we’re a long way from that. We have the possibilities of financial measures that could be taken, bans against travel. There, there are a lot of options once you’re in the Security Council.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Sunday that Iran would stand firm against any action taken to pressure it to abandon its nuclear program, Iran’s state-run television reported.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.

Also Sunday, Rice said the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, Ronald Neumann, had met with Iran’s ambassador there several months ago to addressed security issues.

“We will see when it is desirable to do so again,” Rice said on CNN’s Late Edition.

Ahmadinejad backs talks with U.S. on Iraq
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday he supported talks with the United States about Iraq but was suspicious of U.S. motives.

“We essentially do not trust the Americans but we will conditionally negotiate with them about Iraq while taking into account the interests of Iraqis and the world of Islam,” Ahmadinejad said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

He did not go into detail, but Iranian officials have said the talks would cover only Iraq, not Iran’s nuclear program or other areas of dispute with Washington.

Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the last word in all matters of state, has already approved U.S.-Iranian talks.

U.S. officials have also said they are ready to meet but no date has been set.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Rice: Iran must not have nukes

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