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Rouhani: Iran Ready for 'Serious' Nuclear Talks

Iran's new President Hasan Rouhani waves to reporters at the conclusion of his first press conference since taking office at the presidency compound in Tehran, Aug. 6, 2013.
Iran's newly sworn-in president says he is ready to engage the international community in "serious and substantive" talks on Iran's controversial nuclear program.

In his first news conference as president Tuesday, Hassan Rouhani said it was the Iranian nation's "utmost commitment to interact respectfully with the whole world" and that Iran was ready for negotiations on its nuclear program.

The United States, some Western nations and Israel suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

On Monday, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said if Iran was willing to prove its nuclear program is peaceful "in a verifiable way, there was an opportunity for Iran to reenter the international community, to ease the burden of it's isolation."

Through his official Twitter account, Rouhani said, "If the U.S. shows goodwill [and] intentions based on mutual respect, [and] equal footing without hidden agenda, [a] way for interaction will be open."
Rouhani swept to victory in Iran's presidential election in June after winning the support of reformist leaders and voters. He is faced with several challenges, including a struggling economy weighed down by international sanction over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

In his opening remarks during Tuesday's news conference, he promised to make good on his campaign promises of leading an accountable and transparent government. But he also said without the support of the people his government would have no chance of meeting its long term goals.

He has submitted the names of key Cabinet appointments to parliament, including Javad Zarif for foreign minister. Zarif is a former ambassador to the United Nations and a fluent English speaker who has spent half his life in the United States.

He also chose former industry and mines minister Eshaq Jahangiri as his first vice president.

Jahangiri is a close ally of former reformist President Mohammed Khatami and would be first in line to take over as president if anything happened to Rouhani.

Even though Rouhani wields power as president, major policy decisions in Iran still rest with the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.