Sarkozy: G8 giving Iran a chance until Pittsburgh

Iran has until the G20 Pittsburgh summit in September to respond to the diplomatic overtures that have been a cornerstone of President Obama's foreign policy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

Otherwise, Sarkozy said Wednesday, the nations trying to urge Iran to negotiate would be forced back to the drawing board.

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In meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu less than two months ago, Obama said he wanted to see progress in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program after June presidential elections but before the end of the year.

Those elections, however, exploded into a wave of violence when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quickly declared the landslide victor over reformist candidate and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Images of bloodshed leaked from within the Islamic Republic put pressure on Obama to condemn Iran's crackdown, and Iran snapped back at Obama when he said the events had left him "appalled and outraged."

"Do you want to speak with this tone?" Ahmadinejad said at the end of June. "If that is your stance then what is left to talk about?... I hope you avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it."

Even if the Islamic Republic's fist is still clenched, though, the G8 unanimously agreed to keep extending their hands -- for a time.

Speaking after a Wednesday night dinner of G8 leaders, Sarkozy told reporters that Iran was discussed over the meal and that the G8 resolve to give talks a chance was "unequivocal."

But the French president indicated an informal deadline had been set for Iran to respond to the overtures before new decisions were made about how to proceed. "Between August and September it's for them to decide how they want things to evolve," Sarkozy said, according to Agence France-Presse. "Pittsburgh is the date."

The summit of 19 of the world's largest economies and the European Union will be Sept. 24-25 in Pittsburgh. Debate in the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly will run from Sept. 23-30.

"We want to give negotiation every chance," Sarkozy said. "If that works, then great. If that leads nowhere, then that won't be without consequences."

Meanwhile, fresh violence ignited in Iran on Thursday as thousands of protesters defied Iran's crackdown by pouring into the streets. The opposition protesters had been dormant for nearly two weeks after the initial bloody clashes; these newest protests were reportedly planned for days by Mousavi supporters via the Internet.