L'AQUILA, Italy, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries have set a September deadline for Iran to cooperate and accept negotiations on its nuclear issue.
"We sincerely hope that Iran will seize this opportunity to give diplomacy a chance to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue," the G8 leaders said in a statement after they concluded the first day of their annual summit in the central Italian town of L'Aquila late Wednesday.
They urged Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We strongly urge Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA and to comply with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, without further delay," said the statement.
The G8 leaders said they will "take stock of the situation" when they meet on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly opening week in September.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that Iran would face consequences if it defies the deadline.
"If there is no progress by then we will have to take decisions," he said.
However, Sarkozy acknowledged that Russia had pushed for more time before considering tougher sanctions.
The G8 leaders said they remain committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the issue of Iran's nuclear program, but warned that they remain "deeply concerned about proliferation risks posed by Iran's nuclear program."
The United States and other Western countries claim that Iran intends to secretly develop nuclear weapons. The U.N. Security Council also requires Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activity.
Iran, however, insists that its nuclear plan is only for peaceful purposes, vowing to continue its uranium enrichment activity despite pressure and sanctions from Western countries.
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the
U.S. in April invited Iran to discuss a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, but Tehran has so far rejected their offer.
Special Report: Iran Nuclear Crisis