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Iran Hints At Willingness To Discuss Enrichment Issue

August 16, 2006 - Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has suggested Tehran would be willing to discuss suspension of its controversial uranium enrichment program but would argue such a step was "illogical."

"Even the proposal to suspend enrichment, which we regard as illogical, can be discussed," Mottaki told a news briefing in Tehran.

Iran has imposed its own deadline of August 22 to respond officially to an international proposal that seeks suspension of enrichment and other sensitive nuclear work in return for economic and other incentives.

The proposal was drafted by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Britain, China, France, United States, and Russia) plus Germany.

Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, who was on a visit to Tehran on August 15, urged Iran to accept the offer.

Addressing reporters after talks with Cui, Iran's Supreme National Security Council secretary, Ali Larijani, said uranium enrichment on an industrial level was on Tehran's agenda.

China and Russia have been reluctant to sign on to U.S. and EU efforts to impose sanctions if Iran balks at curbing its nuclear program, but both backed the latest proposal and a stern warning from the UN Security Council in late July.

(IRNA, AFP, Reuters)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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