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US Says Iran Appears to Debate Nuclear Incentives Package

The United States says Iranian officials appear to be debating how to respond to an international offer to suspend a key part of its nuclear program.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Monday said Iran has provided a "preliminary" response to the incentives proposal. But he said recent statements from Iranian officials indicate there is at least a discussion on the best way to react to the proposal.

On Friday, Iran presented European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana with its reply to the incentives package.

McCormack said senior officials from six world powers (the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) discussed the response during a conference call today.

Solana has described the response as "complicated and difficult." He said he hopes to continue the dialogue with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, before the end of the month.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner today said he believes Iran's response to the incentives proposal offers some hope of ending the nuclear dispute, but not much.

The incentives package includes economic and trade benefits if Iran agrees to stop enriching uranium, a process that can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

In Iran today, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected as "repetitive" calls for Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of working to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.