Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bush Calls Iran's Reaction to U.S.-Backed Proposal `Positive'

President George W. Bush said Iran's response to a U.S.-backed initiative aimed a resolving a standoff over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program is a ``positive'' first step toward negotiations.

``Sounds like a positive response to me,'' Bush said of the Iranian reaction after the government in Tehran was presented with the proposal by a European Union representative. READ MORE

``I want to solve this diplomatically,'' Bush said in Laredo, Texas, where he was reviewing U.S. border security. ``We will see if the Iranians take the offer seriously.''

Earlier today, Iran's top nuclear negotiator used similar language to describe the package of incentives intended to renew international talks about ending Iran's production of nuclear fuel.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented the proposal today in Tehran, saying it would ``allow us to get engaged in negotiations,'' according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The U.S. accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear bomb in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran maintains the program is aimed at generating electricity.

``We have received the European proposal and we will examine each of its points and then answer it,'' Iranian National Security Chief Ali Larijani said on state television. ``We had constructive talks. This proposal is comprised of positive steps and certain ambiguities that need to be addressed.'' He didn't say which items needed clarification.

Incentives proposed last month by the EU included Iran with a light-water nuclear reactor, in exchange for the Iranians suspending uranium enrichment and allowing Russia to produce its nuclear fuel. Details of the version presented today weren't released. The U.S. will provide some nuclear technology to Iran in exchange for the Islamic Republic giving up uranium enrichment, the Associated Press reported, citing unidentified diplomats in Vienna.