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Iran Urges West To Drop Conditions Ahead of Nuclear Talks


Iran has confirmed it will meet with Western powers in Istanbul Saturday but is urging them to take pre-conditions off the table ahead of the nuclear talks.

Iran's Supreme National Security Council confirmed Monday it will meet with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France -- plus Germany. Iran wants a further round of talks held in Baghdad at a later date to discuss its controversial nuclear program.

There was no immediate response from the world powers. Iran has been balking at holding talks in Istanbul because it says Turkey has turned against its ally, Syria.

World powers say the talks, the first since January 2011, should bring a curtailment of Iran's high-level uranium enrichment and the closing of an underground nuclear development site,

But Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian media Monday that pre-conditions on the talks are "meaningless."

Western powers suspect Tehran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the allegation and maintains its nuclear activities are purely for power generation and medical research purposes.

Iran's nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi told Iranian media Sunday the country may scale back production of highly enriched uranium. Abbasi said Iran may eventually reduce production of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent enrichment levels -- the purity needed for power generation -- once enough fuel is created to keep its research reactor going.

Iran's uranium enrichment lies at the heart of the dispute between Tehran and Western powers. Uranium enriched to 20 percent could be turned into weapons-grade material within months.

Earlier this year, Iran confirmed it had started enriching uranium at an underground facility near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom. The Fordo complex is beneath a mountain and is better protected from potential air strikes by nations suspicious of the intent of Iran's nuclear program.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.

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