Archive for Monday, July 17, 2006

Iran calls incentives offered by West acceptable

July 17, 2006

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— Iran said Sunday that Western incentives to halt its nuclear program were an "acceptable basis" for talks, and it is ready for detailed negotiations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded that Iran should talk directly to negotiators if it wants to discuss the six-nation proposal.

Frustrated world powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment, saying Tehran had given no sign it would bargain in earnest over its nuclear ambitions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that, "We consider this package an appropriate basis, an acceptable basis (for talks)."

"Now is an appropriate opportunity for Iran and Europe to enter detailed negotiations," he said. "Sending the dossier to the U.N. Security Council means blocking and rejecting talks."

Asefi called on the eight major world powers meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, to choose dialogue with Iran.

"We can achieve acceptable results in this path," Asefi said.

Rice said at the Group of Eight meeting that Iran should contact European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, the envoy who delivered the proposal last month and has been meeting with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.

Iran has said specialized committees in key state agencies are studying the June 6 offer by the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany, and that it will formally respond in late August.

The key demand of the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany is that Iran stop enriching uranium during any negotiations.

After more than a month of waiting for Iran to respond, the six nations are unlikely to accept anything other than an unconditional "yes" to an enrichment halt before talks begin.

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