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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Mar 02nd
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Iran gets two-week deadline to respond to incentives offer
Iran gets two-week deadline to respond to incentives offer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stuart Williams, Agence France Presse (AFP)   
Monday, 21 July 2008


TEHRAN: Iran was on Sunday facing a two-week deadline to give a final answer to world powers seeking a breakthrough in the nuclear crisis, after talks with the EU foreign-policy chief ended in stalemate. Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana hailed their latest talks in Geneva Saturday as "constructive" but Solana lamented that Tehran had still not given a final response.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the talks as a "step forward" in the nuclear standoff, which has raised fears of regional conflict and sent oil prices spiraling.

Solana, who presented Iran with a major package aimed at ending the standoff on behalf of world powers last month, said he was waiting for a decision from Tehran on an initial deal to start pre-negotiations.

This would see world powers promising not to impose further UN Security Council resolutions against Tehran, in exchange for Iran not installing any more uranium-enriching centrifuges, he said.

"We have not got an answer to the most important issue ... we are looking forward to an answer to these questions in a couple of weeks," said Solana.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kisliak, who attended the talks, was quoted by the Ria-Novosti news agency as saying he too expected a response from Iran in two weeks.

"During his visit to Tehran, Mr. Solana presented a text on the framework of negotiations. We have examined this proposal," said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in apparent reference to the so-called "freeze-for-freeze" offer.

In a major development, the talks were also attended by the third-most-senior diplomat from the US, the first time Washington has had direct contact over the nuclear standoff with Tehran.

However, the US warned that Iran would face "confrontation" - an implicit warning of further sanctions - if it failed to suspend uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make a nuclear weapon.

"We hope the Iranian people understand that their leaders need to make a choice between cooperation, which would bring benefits to all, and confrontation, which can only lead to further isolation," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

He said the US envoy at the talks, Undersecretary of State William Burns, delivered a "clear, simple message" that Iran must suspend enrichment to have negotiations with the US.

IRNA quoted Jalili as saying after talks with Kisliak Sunday that dialogue would be continued and "points of disagreement can be discussed."
Iran has already been hit by three sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, while the United States and European Union have imposed unilateral measures against its banks.

The main package presented by Solana offers Iran full negotiations on technological, economic and political incentives if it suspends uranium enrichment. Iranian officials have repeatedly said they have no intention of freezing enrichment - the key demand of world powers for ending the crisis.

In a sign that Tehran believes the diplomatic efforts may be lengthy, Jalili compared the diplomatic process to weaving traditional Persian carpets where progress in some cases "moves forward in millimeters."

Ahmadinejad said that "all negotiations are a step forward and the negotiations yesterday were negotiations that were a step forward," the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its program is designed to provide energy for its growing population when the OPEC member's reserves of fossil fuels run out. - AFP

l WASHINGTON: The international community must put economic and political pressure on Iran in order to help reach a breakthrough in the crisis over Tehran's nuclear program, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs said Sunday.

Admiral Michael Mullen told the Fox network he felt "encouraged by the talks" that were held Saturday in Geneva between Iranian, European and US officials as part of a bid to resolve a long-running dispute over Iran's nuclear plans.

"I believe the international community needs to continue to bring pressure on Iran both economically, financially, diplomatically, politically, to continue to bring them to a point where we can all deal with this issue of nuclear weapons," Mullen said.

"The pressure has got to continue ... specifically on Iran to not proceed in this regard."

Convinced that the Iranians are seeking to build an atomic bomb, Mullen said he felt "that's a very destabilizing possibility in that part of the world."

"I'm fighting two wars and I don't need a third one," Mullen said, referring to US engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The admiral stressed that the United States did have the capacity and "the reserves" to attack Iran as a last resort, but warned of "possible unintended consequences" and the difficulties in predicting regional impacts of an attack on Iran.

Iran has repeatedly vowed a crushing response to any aggression against its soil, with Iranian officials stressing the armed forces would target Israel and dozens of US bases in the region in retaliation. - AFP

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 July 2008 )
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