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EU sets June 29 deadline for Iran

Iran has to respond to the package of incentives offered by major powers in exchange for suspension of its enrichment programme.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 13:29 IST

Iran has less than three weeks to respond to the package of incentives offered by major powers in exchange for suspension of its uranium enrichment programme, according to US and European officials.

The US and Europe have set a deadline of June 29, when Foreign Ministers from the Group of Eight industrialised nations are scheduled to meet in Moscow, the New York Times reported on Saturday quoting European diplomats and senior Bush administration officials.

However, it said the deadline was not explicitly part of the package given to Iran earlier this week, but Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, conveyed it to Iranian officials in Tehran on Tuesday when he delivered the proposal.

The deadline, the Times said, reflects concern among the US, Britain and France that Iran continues to enrich uranium and develop its nuclear capability even as its leadership considers the package of incentives.

"We know that time is not on our side," one European diplomat was quoted as saying.

On July 15, US President George W Bush and the leaders of Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Italy are to gather in St Petersburg for the Group of 8 summit meeting, where Iran is expected to be high on the agenda.

European diplomats were quoted as saying back-and-forth between the major powers and Iran over the package could extend to the meeting, but that Iran was expected to make an initial response well before that.

"If we haven't heard anything from them" by June 29, "that would be a very bad sign and we'd start looking at the sticks," a European diplomat was quoted as saying.

First Published: Jun 10, 2006 13:29 IST