U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States must be willing to engage in diplomacy with Iran.

Speaking late Monday with a Dubai-based television network Al-Arabiya, Mr. Obama repeated his inaugural address pledge to extend a hand to countries such as Iran if they are "willing to unclench their fist."

President Obama promised to lay out a general framework and approach over the next several months on how the U.S. will proceed with Iran.

Mr. Obama said it is important for the U.S. to express very clearly its differences with Iran and where there are potential avenues for progress.

Asked about the president's comments Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  said it is up to Iran to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community.

Can US live with nuclear Iran?

In the interview with al-Arabiya, Mr. Obama was asked if the U.S. would ever live with a nuclear Iran.  He did not answer directly, but said that Iran has pursued nuclear weapons, and that is not conducive to peace and prosperity.

He said other unhelpful actions include Iran's threats against Israel and its past support of terrorist groups.

Mr. Obama also noted that "the Iranian people are a great people and Persian civilization is a great civilization."

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama pledged that his administration would use all tools of U.S. power - including diplomacy - to engage the Islamic nation.

Iran has been under three sets of international sanctions for failing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Western nations suspect Iran is pursuing nuclear technology in order to produce nuclear weapons, but Iran insists the program is for peaceful purposes.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.