US urges Iran to respond to incentives offer

July 20th, 2008 - 2:30 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 20 (DPA) The US Saturday urged Tehran to respond soon to a package of incentives offered by world powers in exchange for an Iranian pledge to suspend uranium enrichment. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US would support additional UN Security Council sanctions if Iran failed to accept the offer.

McCormack’s comments came after a meeting Saturday with Iran led by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Geneva in the ongoing talks that were attended for the first time by the US.

“Mr Solana did not get a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer,” McCormack said. “Mr Solana stressed that Iran needs to give a clear answer within two weeks.”

Solana headed the delegation representing the five permanent members of the Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US - plus Germany.

Seeking to break the diplomatic stalemate over Iran’s nuclear activities, the US broke with past policy and sent a senior envoy, Under Secretary of State William Burns, to the talks to demonstrate Washington was committed to a diplomatic solution.

Iran was expected to respond to the offer in Geneva but did not. Tehran also reiterated that it will not halt uranium enrichment, a process that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran say it is only for energy reactor fuel but the US and its European partners remain suspicious of Tehran’s true intentions.

The package offers better diplomatic and economic relations with Iran provided the Islamic state suspends uranium enrichment. McCormack said the US role in the meeting “strengthened the position” of the six countries and their “commitment to pursue further disincentives should Iran not choose the path of cooperation” that include sanctions.

“We hope the Iranian people understand that their leaders need to make a choice between cooperation, which would bring benefits to all, and confrontation, which can only led to further isolation,” McCormack said.

Burns’ participation marked the highest level diplomatic exchange between the countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution and the subsequent storming of the US embassy in Tehran. Burns merely reiterated the US position, did not negotiate with the Iranians or hold one-on-one meetings with the Iranian nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

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