Washington, May 15 (DPA): The new British government strongly backs efforts to enact UN Security Council sanctions on Iran aimed at the Islamic state's nuclear activities, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday.
Hague declared he will push for swift measures within the European Union (EU) modelled on comprehensive US sanctions for Iran's refusal to comply with international demands on its nuclear programme.
"We agreed on the need to send a strong and united message about Iran's nuclear programme," Hague said after his first meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton since the Conservatives took power in London Wednesday.
Hague's visit to the United States was his first abroad since taking office as Britain's top diplomat and was designed to show robust alignment with Washington on a host of foreign policy issues.
On the top of the agenda has been the US and European drive for more sanctions on Iran, which is suspected of developing nuclear weapons and has rejected demands to halt uranium enrichment. Iran insists its effort is limited to generating nuclear energy and downplays the effect any sanctions will have.
Clinton said progress was being made in Security Council negotiations for a new sanctions resolution. Three previous ones with limited sanctions have not deterred Iran. US officials are hopeful that China and Russia are more willing to back tougher measures after years of reluctance.
"The world leadership has moved in the same direction, some perhaps more quickly than others," Clinton said.
Iran's rebuff of US offers of dialogue and a uranium enrichment proposal from the UN nuclear monitoring agency, along with its continued nuclear work and research, has bolstered the international case, Clinton said.
"We believe that the case is being made perhaps more effectively by the Iranians themselves," Clinton said.
As veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, Britain, China, France, Russia and United States hold the key to whether sanctions can move forward.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has fomented closer relations with Tehran, was in Moscow on Friday trying to persuade Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to give more time for diplomacy.
Lula has publicly opposed new sanctions and will soon arrive in Iran for talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Medvedev, who has pledged to work with the United States on sanctions, placed Lula's chances of success at "30 percent".
Clinton said Medvedev's assessment showed that support for sanctions was growing and "illustrated the hill the Brazilians are attempting to climb."