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. 'Premature' to speak of Iran sanctions: Putin
SAINT PETERSBURG, July 17 (AFP) Jul 17, 2006
Russian President Vladimir Putin called Monday on Iran to respond to a plan for resolving the impasse over its nuclear program, but said it was too early to speak of sanctions on Tehran.

"It is premature to talk about sanctions with respect to Iran," Putin said at a news conference after the conclusion of the Group of Eight (G8) summit here.

"We would like Iran to respond as quickly as possible to the offer from the Six and for negotiations to get started on the basis of this proposal," the Russian leader said.

"Talk of sanctions would create unfavorable conditions for negotiations" with Iran, which the West fears could use its nascent nuclear power program to hide development of nuclear weapons.

Iran has said it has no such intention.

Putin spoke after the G8 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- issued a statement calling on Iran to accept the proposal from the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany for resolving concern over its nuclear program.

That proposal calls on Iran to drop plans to enrich uranium itself in exchange for a package of incentives, including assured access to nuclear power.

The G8 also voiced support for a decision to send the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council for further debate.

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