The Bush administration's lead diplomat on Iran, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, huddled with representatives of Germany, France and Britain a day after Iran's new hardline president used a United Nations speech to proclaim his country's "inalienable right" to produce nuclear fuel.
In a fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defiantly rejected the European offer of economic incentives in exchange for Iran giving up its uranium enrichment program.
Ahmadinejad denied his nation had any intention of producing nuclear weapons. To prove that, he offered foreign countries and companies a role in Iran's nuclear energy production.
It is not clear what effect Ahmadinejad's remarks will have on the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose member nations were lobbied heavily by the Bush administration ahead of a meting beginning Monday in Vienna.
But French Foreign Affairs Minister Philippe Douste-Balzy told the General Assembly on Sunday that France, Germany and Britain have "proposed to Iran a constructive approach to open a way to a new relationship" with the international community. "That relationship currently is compromised by the concerns raised by (Iran's) nuclear program," he said.
Noting that they three European negotiating partners blocked referral to the Security Council in 2003, Douste-Balzy told reporters later: "I believed that it was time to negotiate and we believe that it is now time to turn a new page in relations between Iran and the international community."
He added: "What we heard yesterday in the General Assembly from the Iranian president ... leads me to say that the referral to the Security Council remains on the agenda ... to reinforce the credibility and authority if the IAEA."