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U.S., Europe Trying to Provoke Armed Conflict, Iran Envoy Says

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and its European allies are blocking further negotiations on the Iranian nuclear dispute in order to provoke an armed conflict, Iran’s ambassador to Russia told reporters.

“They are using various excuses, including a failure of the six-party talks with Iran, to start a new war,” Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi said at a press conference in Moscow today, referring to negotiations with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the U.S., China, France, Russia and the U.K. -- as well as Germany.

The U.S. Navy’s deployment in the Persian Gulf is a provocation, he added. “If Iran sees aggression from other countries, it will resist, defend itself with all its might,” he said.

Iran is willing to hold talks about its nuclear program in Istanbul or elsewhere and has submitted suggestions on a timetable to the international community, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said yesterday after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara the day before.

European Union foreign ministers meet Jan. 23 to discuss an oil embargo on Iran that may be delayed by six months to give some members time to find alternate supplies.

Iranian officials have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the transit route for almost 20 percent of the world’s oil, in the event of a blockade of oil shipments or military strikes. Iran denies its nuclear program is aimed at developing atomic weapons, saying it is for civilian purposes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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