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Bush: Incentives Possible for Iran If It Halts Uranium Enrichment

By VOA News

President Bush says Iran must suspend uranium enrichment activities if it wants to see an enhanced package of economic incentives.

Mr. Bush, speaking Thursday in a press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House, said the choice lies with the Iranian regime. He said Tehran for now has walked away from the negotiating table.

The president added it is "incredibly dangerous" to think of Iran with a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Blair said the West wants to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff through multilateral institutions. He said Iran is a "great country," but needs to realize it must fulfill its international obligations.

Britain, France and Germany have prepared a package of incentives to try to persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium.

Foreign ministers from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany are likely to meet next week in Europe to complete work on the package. Media reports say the package includes Western aid to build a light-water reactor in Iran for nuclear energy.

Possible punitive measures are also expected to be part of the talks. The U.S. favors sanctions if the incentive package fails to persuade Tehran to stop enriching uranium. Russia and China oppose sanctions and the use of force.

Western powers suspect Iran is planning to make a nuclear weapon -- a charge Tehran denies.

Iran Says It Is Open to Talks on Nuclear Program

By Benjamin Sand, VOA, Islamabad

Iran has again dismissed suggestions that its controversial nuclear program is aimed at developing weapon's technology. During a visit to neighboring Pakistan, Iran's vice president said Tehran remains open to negotiation.

After talks with Pakistani leaders, Iranian Vice President Parviz Dawoudi told reporters in Islamabad Iran has a right to nuclear technology, and that is non-negotiable.

The Iranian leader insisted his country's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

"Nuclear weapons have no place in our military strategy," said Parviz Dawoudi . "It is also forbidden by our faith and religion to have nuclear armaments, therefore, our activities are fully peaceful."

The Iranian official arrived in Pakistan a day after diplomats from major world powers met in London to coordinate international efforts aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The United States favors sanctions, if economic and trade incentives fail to persuade Tehran to stop enriching uranium. Russia and China oppose sanctions and the use of force. The foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, are to expected to meet next week to complete work on incentives and possible punitive measures.

The Iranian vice president said Tehran remains open to talks to help resolve the crisis peacefully.

"In order to provide greater assurances to the international community, on our part, we are prepared to continue negotiations with other parties," he said.

Pakistan, which borders Iran, opposes any military action against its neighbor, saying it would further destabilize the entire region.

The two Muslim nations have close bilateral ties.

Pakistan has also been at the heart of a worldwide nuclear controversy, after its top scientist, Abdul Khadeer Khan, publicly confessed to having sold nuclear weapon technology to several countries, including Iran.

... Payvand News - 5/26/06 ... --

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