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Iran's foreign minister calls incentives package "a step forward" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday called a Western package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to stop enriching uranium a “step forward.”

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was still studying the package and would deliver a formal reply, but refused to give any timing. “It is a step forward,” he said.

Iran has said it finds part of the package acceptable and called for changes in other parts, saying that the central issue of uranium enrichment needed clarification.

Mottaki said Iran would come up with its own amendments to the package.

“In the end, we will present our proposals. It’s a two-way street,” he told reporters at a joint news conference with Iraqi politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who heads that country’s largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Mottaki’s remarks echoed comments made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Friday.

“Generally speaking, we’re regarding this offer as a step forward and I have instructed my colleagues to carefully consider it,” Ahmadinejad told reporters after meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Shanghai.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented the package of perks and possible penalties, drawn up by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, to Tehran on June 6. It includes promises that the U.S. and Europe would provide nuclear technology and that Washington would join direct talks with Iran.

Crucially, the package calls on Iran to suspend, not permanently halt, its uranium enrichment program. But Iran has so far said it will not give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel, though Tehran has indicated that it may temporarily suspend uranium enrichment to ease tensions.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in remarks published Saturday that Iran’s consideration of the package is a positive sign, insisting that the international community is still waiting for a “solid answer.”

“So far, we have no solid signal, no real reaction,” Steinmeier was quoted as telling the weekly Der Spiegel. The U.S. accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies, saying its program seeks only to develop energy.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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