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The EU is to put forward 'bold' proposals in a bid to end the crisis over Iran's nuclear activities.

As EU foreign affairs and defence ministers gathered in Brussels on Monday, Iran was once again at the top of the agenda.

Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, said that ministers would be preparing a series of incentives, possibly including security guarantees, to get Iran to end its nuclear enrichment programme.

All incentives would be conditional on Tehran accepting international oversight of its nuclear activities to ensure it was not producing weapons.

"We have said over and over again that we think a diplomatic solution is a good way... and we are going to prepare a very serious package that will make it difficult for them to say no," Solana said ahead of the meeting.

"It will be a generous package, a bold package that will contain issues related to nuclear, economic matters and maybe if necessary security matters."

Foreign secretary Margaret Beckett told reporters that if the Iranians do come back into compliance, "people will work hard to help them achieve what they really need, or say they need, which is access to civil nuclear power".

However, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday he would reject any EU effort that called for a halt to Iran's "peaceful" nuclear activities.

The EU proposals could be presented in the coming weeks, simultaneously with the approval of a UN resolution calling on Iran to halt its enrichment of uranium.

Other topics on the two-day agenda included Russia, Nepal, Iraq, the Middle East peace process and the European Defence Agency, with defence secretary Des Browne making his Brussels debut in his new job.

16 May 2005

 Last updated: 16/05/2006 14:31:00

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