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Iran's atomic deadline at G-8 Russia talks

A deadline for persuading Iran to stop making nuclear fuel in exchange for European trade and technology incentives may slip until after the Group of Eight industrialized countries meet this week in Russia. “Russia and Chinahave not responded to a firm deadline for when Iran could face formal action,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. State Department diplomat who now leads the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies' nuclear non-proliferation program. “Russia is not about to sign up to a hard deadline leading up to the St. Petersburg summit that would force them to commit to Security Council action.” Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, is meeting with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana today in Brussels. The Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet July 15 in St. Petersburg, where Iran is expected to be a top agenda item. The U.S. State Department said June 1 that it would like a final answer from Iran before the Russian summit. Iran rebuffed a June 29 statement by the Group of Eight's foreign ministers that it stops enriching uranium by July 5. Larijani has repeatedly said his country will not be held to a strict deadline. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the country may give an answer by Aug. 22. “It is impossible for us to coordinate our thoughts with the timetable of the summit of the world's leading industrialized states slated to be held in St. Petersburg,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Larijani saying on Italian television yesterday. Chinese leaders will also attend the talks. Europe is offering World Trade Organization membership, nuclear technology and airplane parts if Iran stops enriching uranium. The U.S. also offered to join direct talks with Iran once it's verifiably stopped its nuclear fuel program. Highly enriched uranium can form the core of a nuclear weapon. Iran says it want to enrich uranium to the lower levels needed to fuel a nuclear power plant.

The Gs: The world's seven richest nations - the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada have met annually since 1975 and Russia joined in 1998, turning the G7 into the G8. 2006’s summit will be held in St Petersburg - the first time Russia has hosted the G8. Energy security, infectious diseases and education are on Russia's agenda as well as Iran, North Korea, Israel and the Palestinians and international terrorism are also likely to be discussed. (Bloomberg, BBC News)