Iran Nuclear Talks: Country Welcomes Negotiations With Six World Powers, Iranian Media Reports

DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Iran welcomed on Wednesday a new round of nuclear negotiations with six world powers, saying the two sides should set "the date and venue" of the talks, Iranian media reported.

Last week European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton accepted Iran's offer of further talks with the powers in a bid to reach agreement on the future of Iran's nuclear activities.

Iran has repeatedly rejected Western accusations that its nuclear energy progamme is a cover for developing nuclear weapons, saying its goals are entirely peaceful.

The United States and the EU have imposed punishing sanctions against Iran's banking and energy sectors pressure it to abandon its uranium enrichment programme.

"In a letter to Catherine Ashton, Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili welcomed the political will of (the six) countries to return to the talks. He also said the two sides should stay in contact to set a date and venue for the talks," the official news agency IRNA said.

The report said that the letter emphasised having constructive, serious talks without preconditions with the aim of achieving permanent cooperation.

"Jalili has said that he welcomes Ashton's stance of respecting the rights of the Islamic Reupblic in using peaceful nuclear energy," IRNA added.

The last round of negotiations took place in Istanbul in January 2011 but could not even agree on an agenda. (Writing by Marcus George)

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