MOSCOW - Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said on Tuesday he hoped a new round of diplomacy would soon be agreed with world powers after talks that failed to resolve their differences over Tehran's atomic program in Moscow.

Iran and the six powers agreed only to hold a technical follow-up meeting in Istanbul on July 3 after two days of talks in Moscow, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

"We are hopeful that the technical meeting ... can reach acceptable conclusions and give proposals so that Ms Ashton and I can reach a decision regarding the time and place for the next negotiations," Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili told reporters.

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Despite the failure of the Moscow talks to ease Western powers' concerns that Tehran's nuclear energy program hides ambitions to develop an atomic bomb, Jaili said: "In this round of negotiations, the discussions were more direct, more serious and more realistic."

Jalili also reiterated that there was no reason to doubt the peaceful aims of Tehran's nuclear program and said UN Security Council resolutions against Iran were "illegal."

The six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain - want Tehran to stop enriching uranium to levels that bring it closer to acquiring weapons-grade material, but Iran is demanding relief from economic sanctions and an acknowledgement that it has the right to enrich uranium.

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