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US Open to Iran Nuclear Talks

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama says the United States is open to holding new talks with Iran about its controversial nuclear program.

But in an interview broadcast late Monday, Obama said Iran must recognize that international sanctions will remain until the country dispels concerns that it is developing a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

Obama also said the election of moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani to be Iran's next president shows the Iranian people "want to move in a different direction" and engage the international community in a more positive way.

Earlier Monday, Obama said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are cautiously optimistic that Rowhani will push for progress in nuclear talks.

Rowhani told a news conference Monday that Iran wants to prove its nuclear work fully meets international standards.

He said Iran's nuclear program is totally transparent, and that Tehran is ready to show more transparency.

"We will look at taking two specifics to allow us to remove and resolve the issue of sanctions [against Iran]. The first is to take the path towards increased transparency [over Iran's nuclear program]. Of course, our nuclear programs are totally transparent in nature. But we are ready to show more transparency and to show the world that Iran's nuclear work complies fully with the international framework," he said. "Secondly, we will promote the growth of mutual trust between Iran and other nations. Wherever this mutual trust is under threat, we will make efforts to strengthen this mutual trust. In my view, the way to end the sanctions regime [against Iran] is through mutual trust and greater transparency within the framework of international rules and regulations.''

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons, and have helped to implement several rounds of sanctions against Iran that have battered the country's economy.

Rowhani said he will "follow the path of moderation and justice, not extremism.'' He also promised to revive what he called constructive interaction with the rest of the world, and to help fix Iran's faltering economy.

"There is an opportunity now, thanks to the active participation and support of the [Iranian] people: their participation [in the election] and their votes has created an opportunity. I hope that all countries take advantage of this opportunity, because this opportunity is beneficial from the point of view of mutual national interests," he added. "If one looks at the world today, we see tensions and stresses in the economic and political arenas across the world as well as in the [Middle East] region. Therefore, relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its new government will not only be beneficial for the Iranian nation, but also for the countries in the region and the wider world.''

When asked about relations with the United States, Rowhani said the issue is complicated, calling it "an old wound that needs to be healed."

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