Iran President Hassan Rouhani
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has attempted to open up to the West Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on his countrymen to back his efforts to secure a potentially sanctions-busting deal with world powers over the country's nuclear programme.

Speaking as the Iranian delegation resumed talks with US delegates in Geneva, Rouhani appeared to reach out to hardliners in his own country, suggesting that rapprochement would have economic benefits for the country.

"Some people may not like to see the sanctions lifted. Their numbers are few, and they want to muddy the water," Rouhani told officials at a Central Bank seminar, as cited by Reuters news agency.

"The overwhelming majority of our nation – intellectuals, academics, theologians, the greats, and the leadership – are in favour of getting the sanctions removed," he said.

After failing to reach a deal in late November, following nine months of talks, Iran and a group of world powers known as the P5+1 are set to meet for further negotiations on Wednesday (17 December) in Geneva. The US and Iran began talks on Monday in the Swiss city.

The countries are hoping to reach an agreement on the substance of a final deal by March, although the fine details could take longer to agree on.

Iran's nuclear programme, which includes uranium enrichment sites, has provoked fears among the international community that it is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

Disagreements over the nature of the programme led a range of global powers to introduce wide-ranging sanctions on Tehran which have seriously damaged the Iranian economy.