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Iran Says Willing to Hold Nuclear Talks Before Election

Iran's top nuclear negotiator says Tehran is ready to continue nuclear talks with world powers at any time, to address their concerns about its controversial atomic program.

Saeed Jalili said Thursday that Iran is willing to meet negotiators from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany before or after its June presidential election, in which he is a candidate.

He also reiterated Iran's position that it has the right to enrich uranium. The world powers, known as the P5+1, are pushing for Iran to stop some of its enrichment activity. They are concerned this could be used to make weapons, but Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Jalili was speaking in Istanbul a day after meeting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to discuss the possibility of holding another round of negotiations.

Iran's last nuclear negotiations with world powers ended without a breakthrough in Kazakhstan last month.



U.N. inspectors want access to Iranian nuclear facilities and documents. The International Atomic Energy Agency is concerned that Iran may be building a nuclear weapon and wants to visit such places as the Parchin military site. Iran says Parchin is a standard military facility.

The U.N. Security Council has passed several rounds of sanctions against Iran for defying its demands to suspend uranium enrichment. The United States and its Western allies also have imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, targeting its key oil exports.

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