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Iran walks frustrated into Geneva talks

TEHRAN, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Western economic pressure on Iran will "sour" the mood at the negotiating table later this week in Geneva, a chief Iranian negotiator said Wednesday.

Iran and the so-called P5-plus-1 -- the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany -- are scheduled Thursday for their first round of talks in 2014. An interim deal in November offers Iran relief from some economic sanctions in exchange for Iranian pledges to curb nuclear research activity.

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Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi said a decision Friday by U.S. officials to move ahead with sanctions was frustrating.

"These moves will certainly not be helpful and we have announced in our meetings with the American side that such attempts will sour the atmosphere [in Geneva]," he was quoted by the semiofficial Fars News Agency as saying.

Ravanchi said he was responding to a decision Friday from the U.S. Commerce Department to block the export of commercial aircraft equipment from Turkey to Iran.

Washington has defended sanctions pressure on Iran since the November interim deal, saying it was enforcing existing measures.

Iran is suspected of pursuing technology needed to make a nuclear weapon, an allegation it denies. Western sanctions are designed to starve Iran of the revenue it needs to support its nuclear research program.

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