09/07/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Ahmadinejad calls for public debate with Obama, yet keeps to same track on nuclear issue

Iran’s president excludes any talk over his country’s “obvious rights”, which includes nuclear power. He proposes a meeting with US counterpart in an open debate. Iranian authorities cancel or downgrade public events associated with Ramadan for fear of new street protests.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tehran will continue its disputed nuclear programme, excluding any negotiations over the country’s “obvious rights”. However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was prepared to meet his US counterpart, Barack Obama, in a public debate. In the meantime Iranian authorities have cancelled or downgraded major Ramadan events fearing opposition protests.

Although Tehran is still open to nuclear discussions with the 5+1 Group (United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, plus Germany), the Iranian president said that his government “will never negotiate on the Iranian nation’s obvious rights.” 

Ahmadinejad said Iran plans to present its own "package" of proposals to world powers and cooperate on making "peaceful use of clean nuclear energy" available for all countries and in preventing the spread of nuclear arms.

He added that he was prepared to meet Barack Obama in a public debate. "We believe this is the best way for solving global issues," he said.

After taking office, the US president stretched a hand of friendship to the ayatollahs’ regime. In fact in the months since protests broke out following last June’s disputed Iranian presidential elections, the US Administration never openly condemned Tehran.

The Iranian president’s proposal comes at a time when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is meeting in Vienna to discuss the Iranian nuclear programme.

Amir Taheri, an editorial write for the Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic language newspaper, cannot hide his doubts about Ahmadinejad, who in his view has played his cards well.

Ahmadinejad’s proposal for direct dialogue and his willingness to take part in “unconditional talks" would give the Islamic Republic more of the precious time it needs to speed up its uranium enrichment project.

Obama’s outstretched hand gave Iran nine months of relative calm and enough time to complete a number of projects.

In its latest report, the IAEA urged Iran to dispel suspicions that hang over its nuclear programme. Although the UN agency noted a reduction in the number of centrifuges in a plant in Natanz, it also accused Tehran of not cooperating with the IAEA on the issue of nuclear weaponisation.

In Iran authorities have cancelled or downgraded major events during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, fearing renewed street protests.

A rally at the Tehran mausoleum of the Islamic republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was cancelled because of unspecified “problems.”

Former President Mohammad Khatami, a supporter of defeated candidate pro-reform Mir-Hussein Mousavi, was barred from speaking during religious ceremonies starting Wednesday at Khomeini's tomb.

Yesterday Khatami launched into to a stinging attack against the government, accusing its leaders of trying to smear their enemies and purge them from public life with “fascist and totalitarian methods.”

On Saturday Mousavi told his supporters to strengthen the antigovernment campaign.

A motion of confidence was adopted by the Majlis, Iran’s parliament, in favour of the country’s newly-appointed cabinet.

Rooz on-line reported that before parliament voted Iran’s Supreme Leader expressed a desire to see the “entire cabinet to be confirmed”.

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Tehran and Damascus censured in Atomic Energy Agency report
20/02/2009
Tehran and Damascus candidates for IAEA governing council
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God will take Iranians to task if they abandon their nuclear programme, Khamenei says
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Doubts of the IAEA over the Iranian bomb bring Tehran toward new sanctions
26/02/2008
Beijing wants peaceful solution to Iran nuclear standoff
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