Wed, Feb 11, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Tehran says ready for ‘respectful’ dialogue with US


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that Tehran was ready for dialogue with the US as long as there is a climate of mutual respect.

“It is clear that the change must be fundamental and not tactical,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech marking the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution broadcast live on state television.

“The Iranian nation will welcome true changes and is ready for dialogue in a climate of equality and mutual respect,” he said.

The comments came a day after US President Barack Obama renewed his call for direct US dialogue with the Islamic republic after 30 years of severed ties.

“I think there’s the possibility, at least, of a relationship of mutual respect and progress,” Obama said, but “it’s time now for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently.”

Obama said his administration was looking for a new approach despite concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, support for Hamas and Hezbollah and bellicose remarks aimed at Israel.

“The world does not want the dark era of [former US president George W. Bush] to be repeated,” Ahmadinejad said. “If some people seek to repeat that experience … they should know they will face a much worse fate than Bush’s.”

During his presidency, Bush famously described Iran as part of an “axis of evil” along with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and North Korea, while Iranian leaders frequently refer to the US as the “Great Satan.”

“The threats against the Iranian people have been now removed with their resistance and help of God,” Ahmadinejad said. “I officially announce that Iran today is a real and true superpower,” the president said, referring to the country’s “scientific achievements” over the past few years.

Iran yesterday celebrated 30 years of the Islamic revolution that toppled the US-backed shah, showcasing a replica of its first domestically-built satellite, Omid (“Hope”) it launched on Feb. 2.

Ties between the US and Iran were severed in the wake of the revolution when Islamist students held diplomats hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for 444 days.

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