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Iran says nuclear programme peaceful, ready to talk

Written by: Staff

JAKARTA, May 11 (Reuters) Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful and has no military purpose, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today, adding he was ready to engage in dialogue with anybody.

In separate comments to university audiences, which enthusiastically cheered him, he called Israel a creature of Europe that had no place in the Middle East.

In an interview broadcast earlier on local Metro television, Ahmadinejad said of Iran's nuclear programme: ''It has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, or military purposes.'' He also said it was ''ridiculous'' for countries with nuclear arsenals of their own to be pressing Iran to curb its effort to develop nuclear energy.

''We also possess the technical and other capabilities to defend our interests,'' Ahmadinejad added.

He defended Iran's nuclear policies again in his speech to some 100 students and 200 guests at the University of Indonesia, where some students displayed banners that said ''Iran in our hearts''.

Washington and its European allies have been seeking a U.N.

Security Council resolution that would oblige Iran to halt all uranium enrichment work or face possible sanctions.

But this week the drive for a resolution slowed as Washington agreed to first let Europeans devise a package of benefits to induce Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and sanctions if it does not.

Consequently, there might not be a decision on a draft U.N.

resolution for about two weeks.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, today welcomed the delay in Security Council action and said compromise from both sides was necessary to resolve the dispute.

More Reuters OM DB1828

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