Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, said on Friday that attacking Iran was not on Washington's agenda, as she met Tony Blair, British prime minister, in London at the start of a whistlestop tour of Europe and the Middle East.

At a joint press briefing with Jack Straw, UK foreign secretary, she said the two countries were united in their aim of ensuring Iran did not develop a nuclear weapon and insisted that there were diplomatic tools available to achieve this.

Asked if military action against the Islamic republic was something she could envisage under a Bush adminstration, Ms Rice told reporters: "The question is simply not on the agenda at this point in time."

Ms Rice was expected to arrive in Berlin later on Friday for talks with Gerhard Schröder, Germany's chancellor.

In London, she described her half-hour meeting with the prime minster as "productive" and hailed the strength of the alliance between the US and UK. She played down differences between European countries negotiating with Iran and the US.

"I find that there is really very little difference between us about the challenges we face in dealing with the Iranian regime. We have many diplomatic tools still at our disposal and we intend to pursue them fully."

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