By Evelyn Leopold
Reuters
Monday, March 12, 2007; 1:31 PM

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Western nations seeking tighter U.N. sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program have offered some compromises to try to overcome Chinese and Russian objections but will still face resistance when talks resume later on Monday, diplomats said.

They said a proposal for a mandatory travel embargo on a list of Iranian officials had been dropped, although attempts were being made to tighten a voluntary travel ban endorsed previously.


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As negotiations were about to resume, U.S. officials played down the significance of an offer from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address the body. "I'm not sure what purpose that would serve," said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

Iranian state TV on Sunday quoted government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham saying: "The president of Iran plans to speak in a possible meeting of the Security Council on Iran's nuclear program to defend the right of the Iranian nation to use peaceful nuclear technology."

Casey, speaking in Washington, said: "The issue here is not explaining Iran's presumed right to civilian nuclear power, the issue here is getting at international community concerns about Iran's nuclear programs and its pursuit of nuclear weapons."

Ambassadors from the permanent Security Council members, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, as well as Germany, are working on a resolution they hope to put to the full 15-member council this week.

Two weeks of negotiations in New York have failed to yield a resolution, meant to further penalize Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. The United States accuses Iran of trying to make nuclear weapons, but Tehran says the program is for energy generation.

A wide range of financial sanctions is envisaged and envoys said broad agreement had been reached on restrictions for government loans to Iran.

But in dispute are proposals to halt export guarantees as well as an expanded blacklist of officials, groups and businesses whose assets would be frozen, such as firms controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

The six more or less agree on an embargo on conventional arms but China said the list had to be narrowed to certain categories of weapons.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Sunday that the talks were "moving slowly, back and forth" and agreement was "very, very gradual."

The new resolution is a follow-up to one adopted by the Security Council on December 23 that imposed trade sanctions on sensitive nuclear materials and technology and froze assets of some Iranians individuals, groups and businesses.

Security Council members made clear that if Ahmadinejad wanted to address the body it was his right to do so. Under council procedures if anyone objected to such a visit, a minimum of nine members would have to agree and no country would have a veto.

"Any member has the right to come to the council," China's Wang. "It will be fun if he comes, especially in connection with adoption of this resolution."

The United States has to issue a visa and Wolff said no request had been received.

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