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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran's president repeats desire for direct talks with U.S.

RIA Novosti

10/02/2009 15:20 TEHRAN, February 10 (RIA Novosti) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated on Tuesday Tehran's readiness for dialogue with Washington under conditions of mutual respect.

"The Iranian people are ready for talks [with the U.S.], but these talks need to be held in an atmosphere of fairness and mutual understanding," Ahmadinejad said to a crowd of tens of thousands of Iranians celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Tehran.

"The new U.S. administration has stated that it is pushing for changes, but it is clear that real changes need to have a fundamental character and not a tactical one," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama said at a White House press conference on Monday that his administration was in the process of evaluating the country's foreign policies toward Iran and would look at the possibility of using "direct diplomacy" with the Iranian government.

Ahmadinejad also said that Iran was ready to teach the West how to fight international terrorism and stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"Iran has for 30 years already been fighting terrorism and if you [the West] really want to fight terrorism, then you need to cooperate with our country, which is itself a victim," the Iranian president said.

Ahmadinejad also said that Tehran could "reveal the addresses of terrorist groups in Europe and other countries."

"If you wish to eradicate evil and aggression, then first you must judge and punish the main culprits in the latest wars in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and the occupied lands of the Palestinians," he said. "Everyone knows that the main culprit was not just Saddam Hussein. Since [U.S. President George] Bush came to power, millions of people have been killed in the world and millions more have become refugees."

Ahmadinejad recently said Iran hoped that Obama's administration would be different from Bush's, which he described as "aggressive." Bush repeatedly refused to rule out an attack on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is of an entirely peaceful nature.

The U.S. and Iran have had no direct diplomatic relations since April 1980. Ties were cut some five months after radical Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

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