EU warns Iran not to 'play for time' on nuclear offer

MOSCOW, June 28, 2006 (AFP) - The European Union warned Iran on Wednesday against delaying a response to a proposal on resolving the international standoff over the country's controversial nuclear programme.

"Iran should not play for time and we expect Iran to come back soon to the Vienna package," the European Union's external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said during a visit to Moscow. "Iran has to show it is serious about it."

The package drawn up by the five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany promises incentives and multilateral talks if Iran agrees temporarily to halt uranium enrichment.

The enrichment work is at the centre of international concerns that Iran is using a Russian-backed civilian nuclear power programme to pursue a secret weapon-building plan.

Diplomats say Iran was asked to reply by Thursday, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he will not answer before August 22.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight countries were due to meet in Moscow on Thursday.

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