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US Prods Iran to Respond to Nuclear Offer


A senior U.S. official has called on Iran to quickly respond to a U.S.-backed offer of incentives aimed at resolving the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said Thursday Washington would like a response before June 29, when foreign ministers of major countries are scheduled to meet in Moscow.

Following talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Geneva, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Thursday Iran is seriously considering the international offer.

As international pressure on Iran mounts, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he expects to meet with Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani again, probably next week.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday Tehran will respond by August 22, a period that President Bush later described as "an awful long time."

Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema, who met his Iranian counterpart in Rome, says he does not think Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons.

President Bush has pledged to join international talks on the matter if Iran first suspends uranium enrichment.

The U.S. and Europe believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran denies.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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