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Sun 13 Sep 2009 08:26 PM

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Iran again rules out talks on its nuclear "rights"

UPDATE 1: Peaceful nuclear technology is nation's right, says spokesman. 

Iran will not negotiate its nuclear "rights", President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday, after the United States said it would focus on the Islamic state's atomic activities in forthcoming talks with Tehran.Iran last week handed over a package of proposals to six world powers, including the United States, in which Tehran said it was willing to discuss global nuclear disarmament as well as other international issues in wide-ranging talks.

But the document did not mention Iran's own nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, and officials have made clear it will not be part of any such discussions.

"From the Iranian nation's viewpoint, (Iran's) nuclear case is closed," official media quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Britain's new ambassador to Tehran.

"Possessing peaceful nuclear technology is the Iranian nation's legal and definitive right and it will not hold discussions about its undeniable rights," he said.

But he added Iran was ready to talk about international cooperation to resolve global economic and security issues.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly said its nuclear programme is for civil energy uses, not weapons, to enable it to export more of its vast gas and oil reserves.

The United States said it will accept Iran's offer of talks despite Tehran's stated refusal to discuss its nuclear work, making clear it intended to raise the issue anyway.

"This may not have been a topic that they wanted to be brought up but I can assure that it's a topic that we'll bring up," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Saturday.

US President Barack Obama, who came into office pledging a policy of engagement toward Iran, has suggested it may face harsher international sanctions if it does not accept good-faith talks by the end of September.

Turkey's foreign minister said during a visit to Tehran on Sunday his country would be prepared to host talks between Iran and the world powers, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.

It said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made the offer in a meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Turkey, a US NATO ally which is also looking to expand economic and energy ties with neighbouring Iran, earlier this year said it was trying to bridge US-Iranian differences.

IRNA said Davutoglu called Iran's package a good basis for dialogue about important global issues, "expressed hope the talks would begin soon and announced Turkey's readiness to host these talks."

The six powers, permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, offered Iran trade and diplomatic incentives in 2006 in exchange for a halt to uranium enrichment.

They improved the offer last year but retained the suspension demand, something Tehran has repeatedly ruled out as a precondition.

Refined uranium can be used as fuel for nuclear power plants but also provide material for bombs. (Reuters)

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