(AFP) - Iran has dashed Western hopes of a breakthrough in the nuclear crisis, saying it has no plans to respond in talks in Brussels to an international offer to curb its atomic plans.
A senior Iranian official made the comment Thursday hours before Tehran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani was due to have dinner with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
"We will not give a response," either Wednesday evening or next Tuesday, at a wider meeting of Iranian officials with representatives of countries behind the international nuclear offer, the official told AFP.
"We are just resolving ambiguities" of the package of incentives being offered to the Islamic republic, he added.
Solana has said he expects a "first response" in the Brussels talks on whether Iran might be ready to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for political and economic incentives.
But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Tehran will give its formal response to the offer in August.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called Thursday for Tehran to accelerate its efforts to respond to the international community.
"The Iranian leadership said it is ready for dialogue and will answer by August," Putin said while answering questions sent in by Internet from around the world. "In our view they could have done this earlier."
Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach downplayed the significance of the latest Iranian comments.
"Our intention remains the same: to begin to get as much information as possible on Iran's reaction ... We are going to start working with him ... with the aim of having a substantial response next week," she told AFP.
Iran is facing mounting international pressure to show by next week that it is ready to accept the offer, with the threat of UN Security Council action hanging over it.
But Iran, which denies it is trying to covertly build an atomic bomb behind the screen of a civilian nuclear programme, refuses categorically to suspend enrichment activities; a key condition of the package.
"We still intend to have a substantive response from Iran before the middle of July ...," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday. "It simply makes sense for the world to have some kind of indication of whether Iran intends to pursue the negotiated track or not."
Leaders of the Group of Eight major industrial powers expect to examine Iran's response at a meeting in Saint Petersburg starting on July 15, but, as in the past, Iran has resisted all attempts to set a calendar.
On Wednesday, Larijani tried to push back the Brussels talks until next week, but Solana said that "waiting another week was impossible" and "there had to be a contact before that", according to Gallach.
Thursday evening's dinner comes ahead of more substantial talks in Paris next Tuesday, when representatives from the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany are expected to meet Solana but not the Iranian delegation, according to the EU diplomat's office.
The US State Department also said that foreign ministers from the six world powers would meet to discuss Iran the following day -- Wednesday -- just before the G8 summit.
In their offer, the six affirm Iran's right to develop nuclear energy, support its building of light-water reactors and provide for uranium enrichment to take place in Russia.
It would improve Tehran's access to international markets and capital and back its efforts to join the World Trade Organisation, among other incentives.
In return, Iran would suspend all enrichment-related activities, which have sparked fears it may be trying to build a nuclear weapon, and accept wider inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).