Iran General NewsIran to dominate G8 foreign ministers' meeting

Iran to dominate G8 foreign ministers’ meeting


Reuters: Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet in Moscow on Thursday to decide how best to nudge Iran to give a clear answer to proposals aimed at ending the standoff over its nuclear plans. By Michael Steen

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations meet in Moscow on Thursday to decide how best to nudge Iran to give a clear answer to proposals aimed at ending the standoff over its nuclear plans.

Iran has yet to reply to the June 6 offer of incentives from six world powers to persuade it to stop enriching uranium without oversight by international atomic energy monitors.

The West fears Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program but Tehran says the enrichment is solely for atomic power generation.

The European Union and United States have called for an Iranian reply in “weeks, not months” after Iran said it would not reply until late August. They indicated they would like it before a summit of G8 leaders on July 15-17.

Russia, which has signed up to the incentive package but has supported Iran’s nuclear energy program, is pushing energy security as the main topic of the summit being held in the second city of St Petersburg. It is unlikely to want to see it overshadowed by Iran, a G8 source said.

But EU External Relations Commission Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday that Iran’s response to the incentive package would be discussed.

“Of course we will speak again about our offer,” she said. “We do hope that very soon the Iranians will very soon come back with an answer … I think it is important that the Vienna package gets a wider endorsement at the meeting tomorrow.”

A meeting between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has been postponed until after the ministers meet, an EU diplomat in Brussels said.

The G8 source said the Moscow meeting was likely to discuss how best to persuade Iran to respond.

The European Union, the United States, Russia and China have warned Iran that the U.N. Security Council will act against it if it does not suspend uranium enrichment. But they have also set no deadline and Moscow and Beijing oppose sanctions.

The six powers — the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany — have said they want all uranium enrichment to halt as a condition for further talks.

Thursday’s meeting in Moscow will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the foreign ministers of Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated he wants a smooth summit to showcase Russia’s revived global role.

But Western suspicions that Putin is rolling back democracy at home and using energy sources to dictate its will to its neighbors could spring unpleasant surprises.

Putin said on Tuesday Russia did not want any confrontations but added: “Some people look at us through the prism of past prejudices … and they see a threat in a strong, resurgent Russia.”

Russia has also made clear that it wants to avoid talking about democracy in Belarus and breakaway regions of Georgia at the summit, while Western officials want to see the former Soviet Union’s “frozen conflicts” on the agenda.

(Additional reporting by Richard Balmforth)

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