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    Iran prepared for nuclear talks without preconditions - official

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    Iran is prepared to hold negotiations on its nuclear program without any preconditions, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Sunday.

    TEHRAN, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - Iran is prepared to hold negotiations on its nuclear program without any preconditions, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Sunday.

    Iran's nuclear program has been a source of major controversy since the beginning of the year, as many countries suspect the Islamic Republic of pursuing a covert weapons program under the pretext of civilian research, despite its claims to the contrary.

    Asefi said Iran would not give up its legitimate rights in the nuclear sphere and believed all problems should be resolved through negotiations without any preliminary conditions.

    Asefi said the refusal by six world powers acting as international mediators to participate in the negotiating process would not bring them any benefits. Asefi added that if the six world powers changed their policy on Iran's nuclear issue, the Islamic Republic would also change its approach.

    The five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany have drafted a package of incentives to persuade Iran to halt work on enriching uranium, which could be used in both electricity generation and weapons production. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented the offer to Tehran during a visit to Iran June 6.

    The Iranian diplomat said the referral of the Iran nuclear file to the UN Security Council would not mean a day of doom for the Islamic Republic but expressed the hope that the dossier would be returned to the UN nuclear watchdog.

    At their meeting July 12 in Paris, the foreign ministers of the six world powers said they regretted Iran had not given a positive answer to their proposal and said they were prepared to refer the Iran nuclear file to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions, if the Islamic Republic were found to be in breach of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

    The leaders of the G8 group of industrialized nations said at their summit in St. Petersburg July 15-17 they also supported a decision by the six world powers to return the discussion of the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council

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