08/07/2013, 00.00
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Iran's Rouhani wants talks based on "correct and realistic assessment of the situation"

In his first press conference, Iran's new president reaffirms his country's right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme, calls on the West to end its hostilities. Whilst the White House says it would be a "willing partner" in genuine talks, the US Senate urges tougher sanctions.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "As the president of the Islamic Republic, I am announcing that there is the political will to solve this issue and also take into consideration the concerns of the other sides," said Hassan Rouhani in his first press conference following his swearing-in ceremony on Sunday. "The basis of our agenda should be talks, not threats," he said in a conciliatory language.

Yesterday, Iran's new president reiterated the civilian nature of his country's uranium enrichment activity, and reaffirmed its right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme. However, he did not close the door on the possibility of more rigorous IAEA inspections.

"The Iranian nation's intent is to interact respectfully with the whole world," Rouhani said. Its goal is to obtain "serious and substantive" negotiations with the international community about its nuclear programme.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed Mr Rouhani's call for negotiations.

"We absolutely agree with what he said. Resolving this, like any other issue, must be not on the basis of ultimatums, but based on a respectful attitude to a partner," Lavrov told reporters.

The US was more contradictory in its reaction, with the White House saying it would be a "willing partner" in genuine talks, but with the US Senate urging tougher sanctions.

"I think these ideas contradict the fundamental interests of the international community," Lavrov said. "These are dangerous games and we hope reason will prevail."

Western powers are very concerned that Iran's uranium enrichment programme has a military component. Tehran insists on its peaceful character.

Since they started, meetings between the P5+1 group and Iran have only had the effect of tightening international sanctions against the Islamic Republic with negative effects on its economy.

As he takes over a country heavily burdened by high inflation and economic crisis, President Hassan Rouhani could effect a major breakthrough in Iran's relations with the West.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United States not to fall for Tehran's overtures, arguing that "increased pressure" on Iran is the only way possible.

In response, Rouhani noted, "Recent declarations from the White House show that some US officials do not have a correct and realistic assessment of the situation here and the message that the Iranian people gave in the election". In his view, "They are still sending contradictory messages".

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