Iran's president calls offer a positive step

Published June 17, 2006

SHANGHAI, China - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that a U.S.-endorsed incentive package was a positive step toward resolving the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad's remarks were the highest-level sign that Iran was preparing to negotiate over the package, which calls for talks with the United States and other incentives if Iran freezes its uranium enrichment program.

"Generally speaking, we're regarding this offer as a step forward and I have instructed my colleagues to carefully consider it," Ahmadinejad said in Shanghai during a regional security summit dominated by Russia and China.

In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the signals from Iran encouraging.

Iran has sent mixed signals about the incentive package - also backed by three European countries, Russia and China - since it was offered last month. On Thursday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted on state television as saying: "The Islamic Republic of Iran will not succumb to these pressures."

Iran denies accusations by the United States and others that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons.