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    Iran says could discuss uranium enrichment suspension at talks

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    Iran could discuss the suspension of its uranium enrichment during talks rather than as a precondition, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Sunday.

    TEHRAN, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - Iran could discuss the suspension of its uranium enrichment during talks rather than as a precondition, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Sunday.

    The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1696 July 31, demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment by August 31 or face possible economic and diplomatic sanctions. However, an IAEA report said Tehran refused to suspend the program and blocked IAEA inspectors from inspecting Iran's nuclear facilities.

    Last week, the United States and Britain renewed their calls for international sanctions against Iran after negotiations between the country's key nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana failed to produce any breakthrough.

    At the same time, Hosseini said Tehran welcomed Russia's position on the Iran nuclear issue.

    Russia's foreign minister said Saturday that the country will resist any attempts to use the UN Security Council for punishing Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

    In an interview with the Kuwaiti News Agency KUNA, Sergei Lavrov said: "We will oppose any attempts to use the [UN] Security Council for punishing Iran or to use Iran's program in order to promote the ideas of regime change there."

    Next week, the Council will consider a draft sanctions resolution against Iran, which has failed to respond to a package of incentives offered to it in June by the five permanent members and Germany, and has insisted on its right to enrich uranium to obtain nuclear fuel. Russia and China, two of the veto-wielding powers, remain opposed to any punitive measures against Tehran.

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