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Iranian lawmaker: Any talks with U.S. must be without preconditions

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian lawmaker said Wednesday that any direct talks with the United States over Tehran's nuclear program must be held without preconditions, a news agency reported.

Kazem Jalali, spokesman for the Foreign Policy and National Security Committee, said the U.S. move might be viewed positively in Tehran if preconditions were dropped, according to the Student News Agency.

"The U.S. offer for talks can be considered positive but the precondition set by the U.S. is not appropriate," Jalali was quoted as saying.

He does not speak for the government.

"The Islamic Republic has announced repeatedly that suspension of uranium enrichment is not in Iran's agenda," Jalali said.

The United States said Wednesday it will join in face-to-face talks with Iran over its nuclear program if Tehran first agrees to put disputed atomic activities on hold, a shift in tactics meant to offer the Iranians a last chance to avoid punishing U.N. sanctions.

The United States has had no diplomatic ties with Iran and few contacts at all with its government since Islamic radicals took over the U.S. Embassy in 1979 and held diplomats there for more than a year.

The official government news agency IRNA, meanwhile, quoted Jalai as saying Tehran remained interested in talks with Russia, which has offered to enrich uranium for Tehran on Russian soil to overcome international concerns that Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon.

Those talks have been fitful and over several months have led to no agreement.

"Stressing that Iran-Russia talks should increase, he said that during such talks ways of ending the current challenges may be found," IRNA reported.

It said Jalali had stressed "Iran's right to access nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and said that Iran will stress its relevant right in holding talks with any country."

Russia is building a nuclear power plant for the Iranians at Bushehr, and IRNA quoted Jalali as saying: "We need to continue exchange of views to complete this project."