- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 12, 2009

TEHRAN (AP) | Iran is preparing a package of proposals to present to Western powers that could be a basis for future talks, the country’s foreign minister said Saturday.

Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters that the package will deal with political and economic issues as well as security and international affairs, but he did not say whether its proposals also covered Iran’s nuclear activities.

The U.S. and its European allies want to draw Iran back into negotiations over its nuclear program. At the Group of Eight summit in Italy last week, President Obama said there is now a September “time frame” for Iran to respond to offers to discuss its nuclear program.

The U.S. accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons and wants it to stop enriching uranium, a process used to produce fuel for reactors that can also be a pathway to weapons production. Iran denies any aim to make weapons and says it only wants nuclear power.

“We are drawing up general discussions in the political, economic, security and international fields within the framework of a proposed package. We consider this package a good basis for talks [with the West],” the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Mr. Mottaki as saying.

At the G-8 summit, world leaders issued a joint statement saying they remain committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue and said that in September, they would “take stock of the situation” on the nuclear front.

Mr. Mottaki said Iran had not received any message from the G-8 summit.

“We didn’t receive any new message from the G-8. On the basis of reports published, [G-8] member states had different views on various issues which did not lead to a unanimous agreement in some areas,” IRNA quoted Mr. Mottaki as saying.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany offered Iran a modified package of economic incentives in June of last year aimed at persuading Iran to halt uranium enrichment. The permanent council members are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

Iran has insisted it will not give up enrichment, saying its only aim is to produce nuclear power, not weapons. But it has said the incentives package has some “common ground” with Tehran’s own proposals for a resolution to the standoff.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose disputed June 12 re-election prompted days of street protests, referred in April to a package to be presented to the West. He said then that it “constitutes peace and justice throughout the globe and also respects other nations’ rights.”

Iranian authorities have accused the U.S. and other Western countries of secretly instigating the postelection protests in Iran, seemingly limiting the chances of a quick return to negotiations.

American officials have expressed concern that the turmoil in Iran has diverted Tehran’s attention from Mr. Obama’s offers of engagement.

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