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. Talk of nuclear deal exaggerated: Iran leader's aide
TEHRAN, July 3 (AFP) Jul 03, 2008
A top advisor to Iran's supreme leader said on Thursday that his recent upbeat comments on nuclear talks with world powers did not necessarily mean Tehran would accept a package to end the crisis.

The interview by Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had sparked hope in some quarters that Iran was on the verge of accepting a proposal from six world powers to conclude the nuclear standoff.

"In my interview, I talked about accepting negotiations and not accepting the proposed package," Velayati told state television.

"I said to accept negotiations based on Iran's usual policies," he added.

The package presented by the world powers last month offered Iran technological incentives in exchange for it suspending uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make an atomic bomb.

No official has suggested in the past months that Iran is ready to give any ground on the key question of enrichment, which Iran must suspend in order to enter the talks offered by the world powers.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had repeatedly vowed that Iran will never suspend enrichment and Khamenei himself has said many times over the past years that Tehran will not back down in the standoff.

"Those who are agitating against our interests want us to reject the offer. As a consequence, it is in our interests to accept it," Velayati was quoted as telling the hardline Jomhouri Eslami newspaper in the interview published on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili again expressed optimism that nuclear talks could start with world powers but again stressed the importance of a package put forward by Tehran.

Iran's own package is a more all-embracing effort to solve global problems and notably suggests the setting up of a consortium in Iran for enriching uranium.

"Iran believes that by emphasising the commonalities of both packages one can create a suitable political atmosphere for a new round of constructive cooperation with creativity," he was quoted as saying in a telephone call with the Japanese foreign minister.

Iran insists its atomic drive is entirely peaceful and aimed at producing nuclear power for a growing population whose fossil fuels will eventually run out.

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