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Date of new Iran nuclear talks set for February 26

DUBAI--Iran and world powers announced new talks on Tehran's nuclear program on Feb. 26, but hopes of progress after Tuesday's announcement were tempered when an Iranian official said the West's goal in talking was to undermine the Islamic republic.

First word of the meeting, to be held in Kazakhstan, came in comments from Iran's Supreme National Security Council to state news agency IRNA. Later, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she hoped to make progress in allaying concerns about a program Iran denies has a military purpose.

Both sides said the widely expected appointment to meet was made on Tuesday by Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri and European Union counterpart Helga Schmid. However, there were immediate signs from Iran, which holds a presidential election in June, that powerful figures were skeptical of their worth.

But comments by Abdollah Haj-Sadeghi, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), indicated continued differences of opinion in Tehran; those may limit the prospect of narrowing the dispute with the West at the talks in Almaty, the first of their kind since negotiators met in Moscow in June.

“Their goal is to inhibit the Islamic revolution. If they can't eliminate the Islamic revolution, they want to weaken and inhibit this revolution,” Haj-Sadeghi was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency, addressing religious students in the theological center of Qom. “A revolution with a religious nature cannot reconcile itself with arrogance.”

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