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EU Expected to Pressure Iran to Reply to Incentives Package


The European Union is expected to pressure Iran to reply quickly to a Western incentives package aimed at persuading Tehran to stop enriching uranium.

But diplomats say it is unlikely Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, will respond to the offer during a meeting Wednesday in Brussels with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

Larijani spoke ahead of a meeting Wednesday in Brussels with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss the incentives package, which was prepared by the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

Larijani said diplomats from Britain, Germany, France and Russia will attend the meeting.

Separately, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said today Tehran's goal of issuing a formal response on the package by mid-August will not change.

On Monday, a U.S. official said Western powers would consider punitive action against Iran if it has not agreed by July 12 to suspend uranium enrichment.

Undersecretary of State Nicolas Burns also said the five permanent Security Council members and Germany will meet on July 12 to consider Iran's response, if any, to their incentives offer.

Solana presented the incentives package to Iran early last month.

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.