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Ahmadinejad Calls For Support From Conservatives In Parliament

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad

Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has urged parliament to stand with him against "evil ones" who he says have encircled the country.

Ahmadinejad also asked legislators not to intervene in his areas of authority.

Ahmadinejad made the plea to the opening session of Iran's newly elected parliament.

His speech is seen as an appeal to conservative opponents who crushed Ahmadinejad's allies in an election that ended earlier this month.

Ahmadinejad and Iran's conservatives share similar views on foreign policy but disagree on economic issues.

The president lost the support of conservatives when he was perceived to challenge the supremacy of top Iranian clerics last year.

Ahmadinejad also is under pressure from Western countries that accuse Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization has said Tehran has "no reason" to suspend its enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent level -- a key demand of world powers engaging Iran in talks.

Fereydoon Abbasi Davani says Iran is only producing as much 20 percent uranium as it needs for fuel -- "no more, no less."

His remarks follow a UN report saying Iran enriched uranium to a higher-than-expected level -- with traces found slightly higher than 20 percent.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, downplayed that finding as a "technical issue."

Uranium enriched to 90 percent is used for nuclear weapons.

Uranium enriched to 20 percent, used for nuclear fuel, is considered just a few steps short of enrichment for weapons.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Fars