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Ahmadinejad: Sanctions Won't Affect Iranian People

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday world powers should stop trying to pressure Iran with sanctions over its nuclear program.

Speaking at a news conference in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, Ahmadinejad said the sanctions will affect neither the Iranian people nor the government's willingness to participate in international talks.

Iran is tentatively scheduled to hold talks next month with six world powers, including Russia, the United States, Britain, France, China and Germany. The two sides have not agreed on a venue or what issues concerning Iran's nuclear program may be discussed.

Many Western countries believe Iran aims to use its uranium enrichment program to build atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

On Wednesday, Israel's military chief said there is still time to determine whether sanctions are enough to pressure Iran not to pursue a nuclear weapons program.

Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi's comments in Washington compare with harsher rhetoric from Israeli leaders earlier this month, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging the U.S. to issue a "credible military threat" against the Islamic Republic.

Ashkenazi, speaking after talks with his U.S. counterpart, Admiral Mike Mullen, said he agrees sanctions are currently working but that the "real question" is whether they are sufficient enough for the long term.

Mullen said he has no doubt Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, asserting this would be a "disaster for the region" and an "incredibly destabilizing" development. He said the military option has never been abandoned, but echoed U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' view that the sanctions are having a significant impact and should be given more time to work.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.