BERLIN - If at one time European governments believed the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was far more frightening for the United States than for those across the Atlantic, those days are in the past. As talks near on Iran's nuclear program, Tehran should know that European officials' views are somewhere in the middle between America's caution and Israel's alarm.
This major shift among European states was on display during a recent closed-door meeting in Berlin, co-organized by the Heinrich Boell Stiftung, the political foundation affiliated with Germany's Green Party, and the American Jewish Committee Berlin. Not only did officials and experts agree with many in the Obama administration that the policy of containment has failed, all backed the demand that Iran must agree in upcoming talks scheduled for April 13 with the 5+1 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to stop enriching uranium for a certain period.
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Japan agrees to cut Iranian oil imports
Japan has agreed "to reduce Iran oil imports" after meeting in Tokyo with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on an Asian trip to advocate cooperation in applying pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program. Japan is integral in the measures as the second biggest customer of Iranian oil after China. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said that over the past five years the country had reduced Iranian imports and also said that, "We wish to take planned and concrete steps to further reduce this share, which now stands at 10 percent." China and Russia have meanwhile refused to stem oil imports. In a meeting between Geithner and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and other government officials, China said it would not connect its domestic oil trading with the international Iranian nuclear issue. However, this weekend the Chinese premier is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, to attend a conference and deliver a speech on China's energy policy. Some analysts said this trip could signal Chinese efforts to seek out alternative oil suppliers. The increasing sanctions have been taking a toll on Iran's economy, which saw its rial currency lose 20 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar this week. In that context, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on a diplomacy trip of his own looking to ratchet up support in Latin America. In a statement released by Ahmadinejad with Cuban President Raul Castro, the two agreed to the "right of all nations to the peaceful use of nuclear energy."
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