Britain and Germany back tougher Iran sanctions

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© AFP/POOL Dan Kitwood

LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw their support Thursday behind plans to push for stronger sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

The leaders met for talks at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence in southeast England, for talks on Iran, the global economic crisis and climate change.

“On Iran, there was strong support from both leaders for sanctions, and agreement on the continued need to engage with international partners on the issue,” said a statement released by Brown’s office after the meeting.

The pledge followed talks earlier this week in which US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged tougher action against Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

A year on from the London G20 summit which agreed a degree of international coordination to stimulate major economies, Brown and Merkel also discussed the necessary steps to ensure “another successful” G20 summit in Canada in June.

Later Thursday, Merkel received the prestigious King Charles II Medal from Britain’s Royal Society for her work in promoting science.

Merkel, who earned a doctorate in physics and worked as a scientist before entering politics, said she was “deeply honoured” to become the third recipient of the award.

Stephen Cox, the Royal Society’s executive secretary, praised Merkel for boosting German state spending on research despite the tough economic times.

In her acceptance speech, Merkel called for greater European cooperation in science.

The medal is given to foreign heads of state “who have made an outstanding contribution to furthering scientific research in their country.”

The previous recipients of the medal were Emperor Akihito of Japan, in 1998, and former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who won it in 2007.