Iran ready for talks with U.S.: Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday he welcomes talks with the United States, provided they are based on mutual respect.
"The Iranian nation is ready to hold talks … in a fair atmosphere," said Ahmadinejad, speaking at celebrations in Tehran marking the 30-year anniversary of the Iranian revolution.
The Iranian leader said terrorism, the elimination of nuclear weapons, restructuring the UN Security Council and fighting drug trafficking could be topics for the two sides to talk about.
"If you really want to fight terrorism, come and co-operate with the Iranian nation — which is the biggest victim of terrorism — so that terrorism is eliminated," he said.
"If you want to confront nuclear weapons … you need to stand beside Iran so it can introduce a correct path to you," he said.
His comments come a day after U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at his first presidential news conference, renewed his call for direct talks with the Iranian president.
"My expectation is, in the coming months, we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table face-to-face with diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in the new direction," Obama said Monday.
'An era of dialogue and intellect'
That approach is a marked change from the policy of the preceding Bush administration, which had ruled out direct contact with Tehran. But Obama was quick to qualify his offer for talks, saying "it's time now for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently."
Ahmadinejad said that the "world does not want to see the dark age of Bush repeated."
But now, he said, "the world is entering an era of dialogue and intellect."
He acknowledged the U.S.'s willingness under Obama to bring about changes, but stressed that "real change must be fundamental and not tactical."
"It is clear the Iranian nation welcomes real changes," he said.
The United States and Iran cut diplomatic ties following the 1979 revolution that deposed the U.S.-backed Shah.
Relations between the two countries have coarsened in recent years, with the U.S. accusing Iran of pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. Iran has maintained it only aims to harness nuclear power for civilian energy purposes.
Hopefully this will actually head in a positive direction, more then just words to the media.