EU promises "generous, bold" Iran nuclear offer

(Reuters) - The European Union pledged on Monday to make Iran a generous offer of technology, economic and other incentives but stressed Tehran must comply first with international demands to halt sensitive nuclear activities.

The 25-member bloc wants to present Iran with a stark choice of accepting the offer, expected to be delivered around the end of the month, or risk seeing international support grow for a U.N. resolution that would pave the way for possible sanctions, reports Trend.

"It will be a generous package, a bold package that will contain issues related to nuclear, economic matters and maybe if necessary security matters," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters before a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

A draft statement for Monday's EU meeting obtained by Reuters stated the EU could help Tehran develop "a safe, sustainable and proliferation-proof civilian nuclear programme" while stipulating it halt all enrichment activities on its soil.

"If they (the Iranians) do come back into compliance, people will work hard to help them achieve what they really need, or say they need, which is access to civil nuclear power," Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told reporters.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday Iran would not accept any EU offers if it included a demand that Tehran stop what he called peaceful nuclear activities.

Solana gave no details of the package but said the EU wanted to present it to Iran in the coming weeks simultaneously with the approval of a U.N. resolution calling on Tehran to halt enrichment of uranium or face consequences.

Efforts to agree a U.N. resolution last week stalled in the U.N. Security Council amid opposition from Russia and China.

"A MATTER FOR AMERICA"

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, insists its nuclear plans are purely to make electricity. Solana said Tehran's affirmations that it would reject any demand to stop peaceful nuclear work were a misunderstanding of EU policy.

"We have said over and over again that we have nothing against Iran having nuclear capabilities if they are strictly devoted to the production of energy," he said.

But Iranian demands to be allowed to conduct enrichment for research purposes were still "something that at the moment we (the EU) cannot accept", he said.

The United States made clear on Sunday it had no intention of holding direct talks with Iran on the nuclear issue despite a letter to President George W. Bush last week from Ahmadinejad -- the first direct communication between the two countries' leaders for more than two decades.

Germany has called publicly for Washington to engage Iran directly. France and Britain, the other two major EU powers, have not joined the call publicly.

"That's a matter for America and Iran themselves," Beckett said. "What is important is that there is a clear, strong and consistent message coming from the international community."

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, who skipped the EU meeting on Iran to attend a cultural event in Paris, told reporters: "The best of the solutions, and even, the only solution today is of a diplomatic nature."

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