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Ahmadinejad Ready for 'Mutual Respect' Talks With US

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is saying that Iran is ready to begin a dialogue with the United States, provided that the United States is offering "fundamental" and not just "tactical" change. His remarks come in a speech to mark the 30th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad addressed a flag-waving crowd of enthusiasts in Tehran's Azadi Square, on a dreary winter day, to mark the 30th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution.

Tens of thousands of Iranians demonstrated throughout Tehran, as well, carrying Iranian flags, balloons and banners, and chanting the time-worn slogans of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."

Despite the usual rhetoric, including complaints about former U.S. President George Bush, Mr. Ahmedinejad told the crowd that Iran was willing to open a dialogue with the United States if there was what he called an "atmosphere of mutual respect."

He says that the new U.S. administration has announced that it wants to make a change and start a dialogue. To us, he insists, it is quite clear that a real change should be fundamental and not tactical, it is obvious that the Iranian nation welcomes real changes. The Iranian nation, he concludes, is ready for talks, but in a fair atmosphere and mutual respect.

U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated a call for direct dialogue with Iran during a press conference Monday, arguing that he intended to create a climate and conditions where both the United States and Iran will be "sitting across the table, face to face" in the near future.

"My national security team is currently reviewing our existing Iran policy, looking at areas where we can have constructive dialogue, where we can directly engage with them and my expectation is in the coming months we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table face-to-face," Mr. Obama said.

Relations between Iran and the international community have been tumultuous in recent years, because of Tehran's resumption of the enrichment of uranium, and its insistence on moving forward with its nuclear program.

Iran claims that its nuclear program is intended for civilian purposes, but the United States and other nations suspect that its ambition is to make atomic weapons.

President Ahmedinejad also claimed during his speech, Tuesday, that "Iran [has become] a real and true superpower," noting various scientific achievements, including the recent launch of a domestically built satellite.

That launch sent shivers through Western scientific circles, last week, because the rocket used to send the satellite into space has dual scientific and military purposes, and could be used to launch long-range ballistic missiles.