"I am pleased to say that we have agreed a set of far-reaching proposals as a basis for discussion with Iran," said British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members: France, Britain, the United States, Russia and China, plus Germany. "We believe that they offer Iran the chance to reach a negotiated agreement based on cooperation."
No details of the package were immediately available.
Beckett said Security Council action against Iran would be suspended if Tehran agrees to stop uranium enrichment and reprocessing.
"We are prepared to resume negotiations should Iran resume suspension of all enrichment related and reprocessing activities as required by the IAEA, and we would also suspend action in the Security Council," she said.
However, "we also agreed that if Iran decides not to engage in negotiations, further steps would have to be taken in the Security Council," Beckett said. "So there are two paths ahead."
"We urge Iran to take the positive path and to consider seriously our substantive proposals which would bring significant benefits to Iran," she said, adding that they would now approach Tehran with the proposals.
The United States said Wednesday it would join direct talks with Iran if the Iranians agree to suspend uranium enrichment — a major reversal of a decades-long U.S. policy of avoiding formal high-level contact with Tehran.
The U.S. announcement was welcomed by diplomats as a much-needed boost to the protracted dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
But. "Iran welcomes dialogue under just conditions but (we) won't give up our (nuclear) rights," state-run television quoted Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying earlier Thursday in Tehran.
"Even without specific commitments on sanctions from Russia and China, the agreement on a framework of incentives and disincentives presents a unified front to Iran and puts serious pressure on Tehran to come back to the bargaining table," CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk said from the U.N. "It also may allow Iran a face-saving way to take another look at the offer of direct talks."
"What Iran is most interested in avoiding is being hauled again before the U.N. Security Council," Falk reported.