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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that his country would continue pursuing nuclear energy, and would refuse to talk with any countries that did not recognize Iran's right to civilian nuclear power.
"Iran cannot hold discussions with countries that do not recognize this right," he told a news conference during a visit to Algiers. "The Iranian people will ... continue their efforts toward acquiring nuclear energy for peaceful ends."
World powers suspect Iran of seeking to use its nuclear technology to develop weapons, while Tehran insists it is only seeking atomic energy. The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran for repeatedly refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, and a third round is looming.
The nations that are questioning Iran's nuclear intentions generally accept its right to nuclear energy, but not weapons. Russia is building a nuclear reactor in Iran under international supervision, though the deal has hit repeated delays.
US and European diplomats said Tuesday that Russia appears to be dragging its feet on commitments that would allow Iran to activate the Bushehr nuclear reactor, in an effort to pressure the Islamic republic into showing more compliance with UN Security Council demands.
Ahmadinejad denounced countries that have "mobilized all their energy to isolate" Iran over its nuclear program.
He did not name any countries, but most of his criticism appeared aimed at the United States. He blamed "the forces of occupation in Iraq" for fueling international terrorism.
"Certain world powers who want to impose their will and their hegemony on the world ... to protect their interests, contribute to the exacerbation of terrorism," he said.
Ahmadinejad's visit to Algeria has put the North African country in an awkward diplomatic position since the Algerian government is an ally in the US-led war on terror and signed a deal on nuclear energy cooperation with the United States in June.
Iran's protracted nuclear dispute with the West was one of several items on the agenda of talks Monday between the Iranian president and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Ahmadinejad welcomed what he called Algerian "support" for Iran, and said Tuesday that the two countries were in the "avant-garde of the struggle against colonial hegemony."
Algeria cut off diplomatic relations with Iran in 1993, accusing Tehran of supporting Islamic extremists. Algeria's army was battling an Islamist insurgency at the time that raged in the 1990s and continues to simmer. Relations were restored in 2002.
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