Iran stands firm as nuclear talks begin
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A new round of nuclear talks is beginning in Istanbul on Friday. Negotiators from Iran are meeting delegates from China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US. Tehran has said it will not give any ground.
Russia, which for the past decade has been building Iran's only nuclear power plant, has called for discussions on lifting United Nations sanctions on Iran during the two-day talks.
The European Union's top diplomat Catherine Ashton is leading the talks.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu separately met Ashton and Iran’s leading negotiator Saeed Jalili on Thursday evening.
Iran is suspected of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, an accusation which it denies.
The country is under four sets of United Nations sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear fuel or the fissile core of an atom bomb.
A first round of talks between Iran and the world powers was held in early December in Geneva, after negotiations were suspended for 14 months.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday told a cheering crowd at home that Tehran would not back down from its nuclear programme.
"You could not stop us from being nuclear,” he said. “The Iranian nation will not retreat an inch. The nuclear issue is over from the Iranian point of view."
Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi says Tehran will not even discuss its nuclear dossier at the Istanbul meeting.
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