Annan urges Iran to reply sooner to international offer

UNITED NATIONS, June 27, 2006 (AFP) – UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Tuesday urged Iran to expedite its response to an offer of incentives made by world powers in exchange for halting uranium enrichment, a UN statement said.

Annan conveyed his view to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki during a meeting at UN headquarters in New York, the statement said.

"The Secretary-General reiterated his suggestion that Iran should speed up its response to the proposals put forward by EU-3, on behalf of the permanent members of the Security Council and Germany," it said.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran would reply by the end of the Iranian month of Mordad, August 20. But Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States have indicated that they expect a reply to the June 6 offer much sooner.

Suspending uranium enrichment work is the condition set down by world powers for multilateral talks designed to provide Iran a package of incentives in exchange for guarantees it will not seek to develop nuclear weapons.

But Iran is calling for negotiations without any "preconditions" and says it will give its answer August 22.