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'Iran offer is negotiable if enrichment stops'

Written by: Staff

Berlin, Jun 7: The terms of an offer of incentives delivered to Iran this week to end a dispute over its nuclear programme can be negotiated but only if Tehran suspends its nuclear enrichment activities first, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today.

''This is an offer to kick off negotiations but there must first be a suspension of (enrichment) activities implemented by Iran,'' Merkel told reporters before a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

''It is a broad and comprehensive offer. I believe it is a huge chance and I hope that we'll do a bit of negotiating.'' Solana delivered the offer in Tehran on Tuesday, along with a delegation of senior officials from the ''EU3'' -- France, Britain and Germany -- and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kisliak.

The proposals, which have not been made public but include incentives and penalties, seek to persuade Iran to give up enriching uranium, which the West fears will be used to build atomic bombs.

Tehran says its nuclear aims are purely civilian.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said the offer contained some ''positive steps'' but complained that there were some ambiguities that needed to be corrected. Separately German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier reiterated that Iran should not waste time discussing the offer, which was prepared by the EU3 and backed by Russia, China and the United States.

''We should not waste time in a back-and-forth process that lasts for months within the context of these preliminary talks,'' Steinmeier said on ARD public television.


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