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. Iran confident over talks on disputed nuclear programme
ANKARA, Aug 13 (AFP) Aug 13, 2008
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday sounded an upbeat note on talks with Western powers on Tehran's contested nuclear programme, saying they were going in the "right direction."

"We think that the question of nuclear power is going in the right direction," said Ahmadinejad in an interview given to the television channel CNN Turk, part of the American CNN television network.

"The negotiations are good negotiations and that is going to continue," he added.

"Of course, the negotiations are complex, it's normal... (But) now the negotiations have started and it's good. I do not think that we are going to towards chaos," he said.

Earlier this week, Iran said it had agreed with the EU to continue the talks aimed at resolving the dispute over the country's nuclear programme.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili discussed the issue by phone on Monday.

Solana is acting as the pointman for six major powers that want Iran to accept an incentives package in return for a freeze on uranimum enrichment activities: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

The six powers are concerned that Iran's nuclear programme could be a cover for a secret nuclear weapons programme.

Despite the threat of more sanctions however, Tehran has steadfastly refused to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

They say they are aimed only at producing fuel for nuclear power to meet the needs of a growing population.

European Union nations last week introduced fresh sanctions against Iran.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad was due in Istanbul on Thursday for a two-day visit to Turkey where the nuclear programme was expected to be on the agenda.

Israel last week voiced misgivings over Ahmadinejad's visit, saying it was "not the appropriate time" for Turkey, its main regional ally, to host the Iranian president.

"It is not a good idea to give legitimacy" to a leader who has called for the destruction of Israel and denies the Holocaust, said an Israeli diplomat based in Ankara said.

This was particularly so at a time when Western powers are mulling fresh sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme, he added.

But Turkey, a NATO member and a candidate for EU membership, argues that its close dialogue both with the West and Tehran could facilitate a peaceful resolution of the international standoff.

Asked about the Turkey's role in the talks, Ahmadinejad said Ankara was not acting as mediator.

But he added that Tehran "appreciates Turkey's efforts to reduce the tensions and establish a constructive dialogue."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said last month that Ankara was taking on an informal role "of consolidation and facilitation" regarding the talks, at the request of the parties involved.

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