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Iran sticks to August deadline for nuclear response

Written by: Staff
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UNITED NATIONS, June 29 (Reuters) Iran's foreign minister said today that Tehran would respond in August and not before to a major-power offer of incentives aimed at convincing it to end its nuclear enrichment activities.

''Such a response will be in August. I didn't say early August or mid-August,'' Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference.

No response can come before ''questions and ambiguities'' in the proposal are cleared up, he added.

Iran had previously said it would respond by August 22.

But the Group of Eight industrialized nations told Iran today to provide a ''clear and substantive response'' next week.

Mottaki, speaking in Farsi choppily translated into English, said Iran's response would be ''clear and substantive.'' He was in New York to attend a UN conference on the illicit small arms trade.

However, he added, ''The proposed package contains questions and ambiguities which must be clear.'' Iranian officials were meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana next week and Mottaki acknowledged the meeting might prove useful in resolving some of the ambiguities.

But while a response would be announced ''as soon as it is done,'' the process would not be concluded earlier than August because various committees were considering different parts of the incentives package and it would all take time, he said.

REUTERS SHR RAI2244

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