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Israel’s demands for a credible military threat to deter any Iranian plans for a nuclear weapon have been rejected by America. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu flew to the United States hoping for Washington’s support for stepping up the pressure on Tehran.

But first Vice President Joe Biden, and later Defense Secretary Robert Gates, ruled out any prospect of military action. Both men said tough new sanctions approved by the UN Security Council were biting more deeply than Iran had expected. Gates said the measures had already had a considerable effect in restricting Iran’s trade and financial dealings. But Gates also warned all options remain on the table.

The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said Tehran is ready to talk to the major powers about its controversial nuclear programme, and said such negotiations should take place in Turkey.

The American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would welcome renewed talks, but said no date or time had been agreed.

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