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Putin Urges Iran to Accept Nuclear Offer


Russian President Vladimir Putin is urging Iran to accept an international package of incentives aimed at defusing the stand-off over Tehran's nuclear program.

He said he would like Iran to accept the offer and start negotiations before Russia hosts a Group of Eight summit starting July15. China also called on Iran to quickly respond to the offer and asked other nations to consider Iran's concerns.

A senior U.S. official said earlier that Western powers would consider punitive action against Iran if it has not agreed by July 12 to suspend uranium enrichment.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicolas Burns says the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, plus Germany, will meet in Europe on July 12th to consider Iran's response, if any, to their incentives offer.

Iranian officials have indicated they would not respond until mid-August.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is due to meet Wednesday with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, to discuss the incentives package.

The U.S. and many of its European allies believe Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful civilian purposes.

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

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