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. Britain urges 'early' Iran nuclear reply
TEHRAN, June 26 (AFP) Jun 26, 2006
Britain's new ambassador appealed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Monday to give an "early response" to an international package aimed at defusing concerns over Iran's nuclear programme.

"We hope that Iran will play a full role in regional and international affairs," envoy Geoffrey Adams told Ahmadinejad during a ceremony to present his credentials.

"In that context, we believe that the recent proposals made by (EU foreign policy chief Javier) Solana constitute a sound basis for the resolution of the nuclear issue, and we look forward to the Iranian government's early response to them," a British embassy statement quoted him as saying.

On June 6, Solana presented Iran with an offer -- backed by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- of multilateral talks and a variety of incentives.

The offer is conditional on Iran first agreeing to suspend uranium enrichment work, the focus of suspicions that the Islamic regime wishes to acquire nuclear weapons.

But Iran appears to still reject the key condition and continues to call for negotiations without any "preconditions".

Ahmadinejad has said a reply will be given in late August, whereas the major powers are calling for a reply before the end of June, in time for a summit of the G8 group of industrialised nations in Russia.

Commenting on the often strained ties between Tehran and London, Adams pointed to "a complex and varied relationship" and called for relations "based on mutual respect and the principles of international law".

In the absence of a US embassy in Tehran, Britain's city centre compound frequently bears the brunt of anti-Western stone-throwing, shooting and bomb attacks from pro-regime hardliners.

In comments carried by state television, Ahmadinejad also spoke of Britain's "colonialist past and the problems for the Iranian people created in the past by Britain."

The hardline president also voiced hope that "London will show proof of goodwill in its relations with Tehran."

"It is necessary to preserve the presently calm atmosphere surrounding the nuclear issue," Ahmadinejad said, adding that "Iran is used to being under pressure for the past 27 years and will not back down if the situation gets harder."

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