Iran's president stepped up his challenge to the country's hard-line factions on Monday, calling for the lifting of restrictions on academic freedoms and for granting Iranian scholars more opportunity to take part in international conferences.

The message from Hassan Rouhani underscores the increasing friction between his moderate-leaning camp and entrenched forces such as hard-line student organizations that have questioned the scope of the new president's overtures to Washington.

Rouhani has pushed to break Iran's standoff with the international community over its contested nuclear program, the subject of renewed talks with world powers due to resume on Tuesday in Geneva.