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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Defiant Ahead of Lavrov Visit

TEHRAN -- Iran will not back down in a nuclear dispute with the West and is not interested in talks with the United States, its president said Tuesday ahead of a previously unannounced visit by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking hours before he was due to meet Lavrov in Tehran, dismissed U.S. offers of broader negotiations between the two foes if Iran first halts atomic work that the United States fears is aimed at building bombs.

"This nation will not negotiate with anyone over its obvious and legal rights," Ahmadinejad told student members of the Basij religious militia, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"We are not even interested in negotiating with [the United States], and the Iranian nation does not need America."

U.S. President George W. Bush said earlier this month that Washington had made it clear to the Islamic Republic that negotiations were possible if it shut down its nuclear program, something Iran has consistently refused to do.

In Moscow, a spokesman said Lavrov would discuss nuclear and bilateral issues during a working visit to the Iranian capital. Iranian officials said talks with Ahmadinejad would be held in the afternoon and that no news conference was planned afterward.

Moscow says dialogue -- not more penalties or military action, as mooted in the United States -- is the way to ease an escalating international standoff over Tehran's atomic ambitions.

The Lavrov visit coincides with a crucial round of talks in Tehran between officials from Iran and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency on implementing an August deal meant to resolve questions about past secret Iranian activity.

Tension has been rising between Iran and the United States, which has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to stop Iran's sensitive atomic work.