Hamid Reza Asefi (File photo)
Iran's foreign ministry says the government will continue negotiations with the European Union on Tehran's controversial nuclear program, even with the election of a new president.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran Sunday the nuclear issue is part of Iran's broader national policy and will not change with a new administration.

But he added that the Islamic republic is now more capable of confronting challenges to its policies, which he says is something the West will have to consider.

The stunning election victory Friday of hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has raised Western concerns that Iran will harden its policies under the new leader, particularly regarding nuclear negotiations.

European leaders say they hope the new Tehran government will provide reliable assurances that it does not intend to build nuclear weapons.

Washington, which accuses Iran of developing a secret nuclear weapons program, has not commented directly on Mr. Ahmadinejad's victory, but says it hopes for greater freedom for the people of Iran.

President-elect Ahmadinejad is expected to outline his plans Sunday at his first news conference since the election on Friday.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has not yet announced any Cabinet appointments, but says he will look toward all groups in Iranian society when he forms a government.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.