Iran asks Switzerland to host nuclear meeting


Iran has asked Switzerland to organise an international conference to resolve its stand-off with the West over its nuclear programme, a Swiss newspaper reported today.

A Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report in the NZZ am Sonntag. There was no immediate reaction from Tehran.

The report cited "reliable sources" as saying the request was made by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at meeting in Tehran with a senior Swiss government official last week.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons and is demanding that it suspend an uranium enrichment programme that Tehran says aims only to produce electricity.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have offered incentives to Iran give up the programme, but they are split on whether to apply sanctions if Tehran continues to refuse.

Iran wants invitations to the conference extended beyond the permanent five -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia -- to include countries such as Japan and Spain and possibly India and Pakistan, the newspaper said.