Reuters: The Group of Eight nations urged Iran on Friday to respond positively to the latest in a series of Western incentives that have so far failed to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear activities.
KYOTO, Japan (Reuters) – The Group of Eight nations urged Iran on Friday to respond positively to the latest in a series of Western incentives that have so far failed to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear activities.
Iran says its uranium enrichment programme is for civilian nuclear power purposes, but other governments suspect it may be intended for nuclear weapons. Three European governments, along with China, Russia and the United States have offered Tehran an economic package in return for the abandonment of its programme.
"We call on Iran to respond to the updated incentives plan in a constructive manner," foreign ministers of the G8 rich countries said in a statement issued after a two-day meeting in Kyoto, Japan.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported as saying on Thursday that Iran's "enemies" would never stop its nuclear activities. Iranian officials usually refer to the United States and its European allies as "enemies".
The European Union agreed new sanctions on Monday targeting businesses and individuals the West says are linked to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The measures include a freeze on the assets of Iran's largest bank, Bank Melli.
In response, Iran said it would withdraw its assets from the EU, a report said this week.
The G8 foreign ministers also urged Iran to be more cooperative in dealings in its regional neighbourhood. Western governments have accused Tehran of obstructing the Middle East peace process and fomenting violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We also urge Iran to act in a more responsible and constructive manner in the region, especially with regard to the Middle East peace process and the stability of Iraq and Afghanistan," the statement said.
The ministers agreed that the dual-track approach of sanctions and diplomacy should be continued to reach a diplomatic solution on Iran's nuclear programme and to engage in negotiations with the international community, the statement said.
(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by John Chalmers)