Bush wins broad Iran sanctions on Europe tour

British PM promises more troops for Afghanistan


U.S. President George W. Bush won strong backing from Europe on Monday to tighten sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also promised to send more troops to try to end resurgent violence in Afghanistan after talks with Bush, who is making a farewell tour of Europe.

Iran has rejected calls to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used to make nuclear bombs although Tehran says its nuclear program is intended only for civil power generation.

"Today, Britain will urge Europe and Europe will agree to take further sanctions against Iran," Brown told a news conference with Bush after talks in London.

"First of all we will take action today that will freeze the overseas assets of the biggest bank in Iran, the bank Melli, and second, action will start today for a new phase of sanctions on oil and gas," he said.

But a European Union spokeswoman appeared to contradict the British statement, saying foreign ministers neither discussed nor agreed a new round of sanctions against Iran at a meeting on Monday.

"There was no discussion of sanctions today. I know nothing about that," a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.

Iran again ruled out suspending enrichment on Saturday and dismissed a package of political and economic incentives put forward by six world powers.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all offered Bush support for efforts to prevent Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, obtaining nuclear weapons.

The three U.N. sanctions resolutions imposed so far on Iran have been relatively limited in scope -- including targeting individuals, some firms with military links and several banks.

Flush with record oil revenues that have helped it withstand such sanctions, Iran has long ruled out ending its quest for its own uranium enrichment industry.

Troops for Afghanistan

Brown also promised to send more troops to Afghanistan, but did not say how large a force would go.

"Today Britain will announce additional troops for Afghanistan, bringing our numbers in Afghanistan to the highest level," he told reporters.

Britain, a troop contributor to the NATO force fighting Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents, has about 7,800 troops in Afghanistan, mostly in Helmand province. Five British soldiers were killed last week, bringing the total number of British military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001 to 102.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has seen its troop strength swell to some 52,000 in recent months but commanders say it is still under-resourced and struggles to hold areas captured from insurgents.