09/19/2013, 00.00
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Rouhani takes new steps towards dialogue, saying Iran does not want the "nuclear bomb"

The new president, who released ten political prisoners, said he spoke with Obama. For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rouhani is a "wolf in sheep's clothing", thus "the pressure on Iran should be intensified and not eased" to stop its nuclear programme. Obama and Rouhani will be at the UN next Tuesday to test diplomacy.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "We have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb, and we are not going to do so," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News in an interview yesterday. And, on the nuclear issue, "We have sufficient [domestic] political latitude to solve this problem."

One day after the release of ten political prisoners, including human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh who was imprisoned following the protests of 2009, Ayatollah Rouhani took another important step toward dialogue with the West by saying that he recently had an exchange of letters with US President Barack Obama.

"From my point of view the tone of the letter was positive and constructive," Rowhani said. "It could be subtle and tiny steps for a very important future".

UN economic sanctions imposed to deter Iran's nuclear programme have been a burden on the country's economy since 2006.

During the recent election campaign, Rouhani said that having sanctions lifted would be one of his first goals in order to stop high inflation and boost the national economy through exports and foreign investment.

For the Iranian president, his country's research in the nuclear field aims at developing energy sources. "I believe the leaders in all countries could think in their national interest and they should not be under the influence of pressure groups," he said.

Despite Tehran's reassurances, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is categorical in his response.

"I intend to focus on the question of stopping Iran's nuclear programme-an actual halt to the nuclear programme. And until this is achieved, the pressure on Iran should be intensified and not eased".

In the meantime, Hassan Rouhani and Barack Obama will be in New York next Tuesday at the United Nations to find a common ground for dialogue.

"There are indications that Rouhani, the new president, is somebody who is looking to open dialogue with the West and with the United States in a way that we haven't seen in the past," Obama told Spanish-language network Telemundo.

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