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Ahmadinejad: Iran Not Ready for US Talks Without Preconditions

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he is not ready for talks with U.S. officials without preconditions.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said he wants a "clear framework and agenda" for talks and that any discussions with U.S. and European officials must be based on "justice and mutual respect."

The Iranian president made his comments in an interview on U.S. television ABC's This Week. The interview was broadcast Sunday after taking place in Tehran on Wednesday.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said his government is working on a package of proposals for talks and plans on releasing it soon.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said he wants a "new beginning" in relations between Iran and the United States, with greater opportunities for partnership and commerce.

Mr. Obama's remarks are in contrast to those of the last U.S. administration, which sought to isolate Iran and descibed it as part of an "Axis of Evil."

Despite the overtures for talks, relations between the two countries have remained tense.

The Iranian government refuses to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which Western governments fear could be used in a nuclear weapon program.

Iran also recently sentenced an Iranian-American journalist to eight years in prison for spying. Washington has called the espionage charges "baseless."

Meanwhile, Mr. Ahmadinejad caused an international uproar last week at the United Nations' racism conference in Geneva. In his speech, the Iranian president called Israel a "most cruel and repressive racist regime." Many Western diplomats walked out during the speech, and President Obama called Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements "appalling."

In the U.S. interview that aired Sunday, President Ahmadinejad defended his speech, saying his point of view should be respected.

He also said Iran would support whatever decision the Palestinians decide on in regards to any agreement with Israel.

The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the Islamic revolution, some 30 years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.