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Iran willing to budge on enrichment

  |   Nov. 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM
TEHRAN, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Friday the Iranian government was willing to negotiate over its uranium enrichment activity.

"Enrichment is among the Iranian nation's principles and basic rights, and Iran will not give up its rights, but we are ready to negotiate over the size, form and dimensions of enrichment," he was quoted as saying by Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency.

A second round of talks between Iran, the United States, Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany, the so-called P5+1, are scheduled to start Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said both sides were very close to reaching a deal during the first round of talks in Geneva last week.

Araqchi said Friday he spoke by phone with Helga Schmidt, the deputy European commissioner for foreign affairs. He said both sides expressed hope the negotiating partners would be able to reach an agreement next week.

U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters Thursday he was calling on members of Congress to hold off on new sanctions while multilateral negotiators hammer out a 6-month deal that would freeze Iran's nuclear program in exchange for some relief from existing sanctions.

Iran this week reached an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency both sides said would resolve "past and present issues" related to Iran's nuclear program.

Iran is suspected of pursuing the technology needed to manufacture a nuclear weapon, an allegation it denies.

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