G8 told Iran considering incentives to halt nukes

Group of Eight leaders were told Iran was seriously considering a package of incentives aimed at getting it to halt its nuclear program, South African President Thabo Mbeki said Monday. Mbeki, whose Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma visited Iran last week, said he passed on that message during his meetings with G-8 leaders in Russia. An Iranian Foreign Ministry official had made similar comments to reporters Sunday, but Mbeki's briefing took the communications to a higher level. "We have today in our interactions with the G-8 communicated the essential message from the Iranians," Mbeki said in an interview with foreign reporters. "It is that they believe this proposal is important, it constitutes an important starting point with regard to the negotiating process which everybody agrees needs to take place, and therefore that they are considering the matter seriously." The package the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany offered last month includes economic incentives and a provision for the United States to offer Iran some nuclear technology, lift some sanctions and join direct negotiations. The key demand of the six is that Iran stop enriching uranium during any negotiations. Their proposal also calls for Iran to impose a long-term moratorium on uranium enrichment _ which can produce civilian reactor fuel or fissile bomb material.