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Iranian Leader Considers Package of Incentives for Nuclear Freeze a Step Forward

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he considers an offer of incentives by the U.S. and other nations a step forward in solving the controversy over his country's nuclear programs. The Iranian leader spoke after attending a summit in China of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where he sought to gain further support for Iran's position from China and Russia.

The Iranian leader said his conversations with the presidents of China and Russia on the sidelines of the S.C.O. summit touched on the nuclear issue. He held out hope that a package of incentives, offered by six nations including China and Russia in return for Tehran modifying its nuclear program, might help resolve the standoff.

He says Iran regards the package as a step forward, and he has instructed his government to consider it carefully. He says he will give a response in due time, in line with the international interests of his country.

The West has threatened sanctions if Iran does not stop uranium enrichment, fearing that Tehran plans to build a nuclear weapon. Mr. Ahmadinejad insists the enrichment program is only for peaceful purposes. He came to Shanghai looking for support, especially from China and Russia, which have both opposed sanctions.

After his meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Ahmadinejad suggested he had received that support.

He says Iran's views and positions on many issues are close or even identical to those of China and Russia. And on the matter of Iran's nuclear program, he says the three are consulting. Iran, China, and Russia, the Iranian leader says, want a peaceful solution to the matter.

The Iranian leader, who has been openly hostile to Israel and has questioned the reason for the Jewish state's existence, also told reporters there should be an independent investigation into the Holocaust.

He said "historical events" - a reference to the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed - need to be investigated by "independent and impartial parties."

China invited the Iranian leader to observe the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which groups China, Russia and four Central Asian nations. Analysts say the move was part of Beijing's effort to secure more oil from Iran, which is already one of China's leading suppliers.