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Iranian President Welcomes 'Honest' Talks With US


Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said his country would welcome talks with the United States if President Barack Obama proves to be "honest" in extending a hand towards Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, speaking to several hundred-thousand people in the city of Isfahan, responded to recent U.S. overtures for dialogue by indicating his country would welcome such a dialogue if it was "honest."

Sounding a conciliatory note in his speech, Mr. Ahmedinejad said the "Iranian nation welcomes a hand extended to it, should it be really and truly based on honesty, justice and respect."

President Barack Obama said in January that his administration is prepared to reach out to erstwhile U.S. foes if they are "willing to unclench their fists."

But the Iranian president offered some veiled criticism to Mr. Obama, taking a stab at his campaign theme of "change".

"If you say you are after change, then change your policies, change your rhetoric, change your ways'" he said.

In March, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a chilly response to President Obama's video message to the Iranian people for the Persian New Year, underlining that Tehran is waiting for concrete changes in U.S. policies.

Other top Iranian officials, including Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani have also continued to stress Tehran will move forward with its controversial nuclear program, despite U.S. overtures.

Analysts are also expecting President Ahmedinejad to make a provocative declaration, Thursday, marking Iran's self-proclaimed "nuclear day," noting the country's nuclear accomplishments during the past year. The United States has accused Iran of using its nuclear program as part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

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