Merkel hopes of peace solution to Iran nuclear crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview published Wednesday that she remains hopeful of a negotiated solution to the standoff over Iran 's nuclear program. Iran said this week it had resumed small-scale enrichment of uranium, showing renewed defiance in the face of global concern over its program.

However, Merkel was quoted as telling the weekly Stern that "naturally, I see real chances for a negotiated solution." "We are far from having exhausted all room for maneuver," Merkel said, renewing her assertion that "we should proceed step by step."

" Iran must recognize that, with its actions, it has isolated itself within the international community and gains nothing from that," she said. The world has long sought to stop Iran from enriching uranium, fearing that the process would bring it to the threshold of possessing nuclear bombs, an intention that Tehran denies. On Feb. 4, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council and called on its government to suspend all enrichment-related activities.

In the Stern interview, Merkel described the IAEA resolution as "a great success for diplomacy." Among diplomatic efforts still under way, she mentioned a Russian proposal to enrich Iranian uranium on Russian soil. On Monday, Iran said talks on that plan were postponed indefinitely, reports the AP.

N.U.