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Sun 12 Jul 2009 01:54 AM

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Iran plays down G8 concern at protests, nuke standoff

Gov't says will present new package to world powers in bid to solve various issues.

Iran on Saturday played down G8 concerns about its crackdown on protests after the June presidential election and its nuclear programme, saying it is working on a package to address international issues."There has been no new message from the G8 which wrapped up its meeting last night," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters at a news conference.

"They (world leaders) had different views and in some cases they did not reach an overall agreement... we are going to present our package which will be a basis to negotiate all regional and international issues," he added, without elaborating.

"If there is a new message we will act on it accordingly," Mottaki said.

On April 15, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran will present a new package to the group of P5-plus-1 world powers in a bid to solve various bones of contention, including its sensitive nuclear work.

The P5-plus-1 group - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - has authorised EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to talk to Iran over the nuclear issue.

The package announced by Ahmadinejad and referred to by Mottaki on Saturday is essentially a new version of a plan presented by Tehran to the group in May 2008 proposing consortiums to enrich uranium and manufacture nuclear fuel, including in Iran.

Iran's defiant plan to continue enriching uranium lies at the heart of the controversy over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Highly enriched uranium can be used to make atomic weapons, but low enriched uranium is used in nuclear power plants. Tehran denies it wants to make atomic weapons and insists its nuclear programme is aimed solely at generating electricity.

Talks between Iran and P5-plus-1 have been on hold since September.

US President Barack Obama cranked up pressure on Tehran by saying on Friday that world leaders were "appalled" at post-presidential election violence in Iran and would not stand idly by while the Islamic republic builds a nuclear weapon.

Welcoming a rare consensus on Iran among the globe's most powerful nations at the L'Aquila G8 summit in Italy, Obama told reporters he hopes Tehran will recognise that "world opinion is very clear."

The G8 joint declaration expressed "serious concern" over post-election violence in Iran but called for a negotiated resolution to the standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme, giving it time until September's G20 summit.

"We also say we're not going to just wait indefinitely and allow for the development of the nuclear weapon, the breach of international treaties, and wake up one day and find ourselves in a much worse situation and unable to act," Obama said.

"So my hope is that the Iranian leadership will look at the statement coming out of the G8 and recognise that world opinion is clear."

Iran was rocked with violent street protests after the June 12 election re-elected Ahmadinejad by a thumping majority.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of runner up Mir Hossein Mousavi poured onto Tehran streets opposing the hardliner's landslide victory.

In the ensuing violence which erupted in the capital, at least 20 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

The crisis, the worst to have hit the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution, triggered a crackdown by authorities on the protestors.

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