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World powers press Iran to talk before U.N. meeting

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany (Reuters) - World powers pressed Iran on Wednesday to meet them for talks on its disputed nuclear program before a United Nations General Assembly meeting later this month.

Volker Stanzel, political director in the German foreign ministry, made the comments in a statement after chairing a meeting with his counterparts from Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.

Speaking on behalf of the six powers, Stanzel’s statement was a response to remarks by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, who was quoted by Iranian state television on Tuesday as saying Tehran was ready to talk to world powers.

“With reference to Dr Jalili’s statement this week that Iran is ready to resume talks, I expect Iran to respond to the offer of talks (made) in April by agreeing to meet before (the) UNGA (U.N. General Assembly),” Stanzel said.

A senior European official said the world powers were expressing a desire for a meeting, rather than a concrete expectation that one would take place.

The official said the powers wanted a meeting with the Iranians within about two weeks. He added that there was disappointment around the table that there had been no movement on the issue since April.

The U.N. General Assembly meeting is on September 23-25.

The West suspects Iran is pursuing the means to produce atomic bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear fuel program. Iran says it wants only electricity from nuclear power.

Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; Editing by Charles Dick

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