The Associated Press
Sunday, October 7, 2007
TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that he was not asking for talks with the United States but they would be possible if Washington changed its policy toward Tehran, the official Web site reported.
Referring to last week's comment by U.S. President George W. Bush of Washington's willingness to negotiate with Iran if it suspended its nuclear program, Ahmadinejad responded, "we firstly say that we never asked for negotiations with the United States. Negotiations with the U.S. will happen when the U.S. government applies basic changes in its behavior and attitude."
"Setting conditions is our right since we have been worrying about your atomic bombs as well as the warmongers standing beside them," Ahmadinejad was quoted by the Web site as saying.
He reiterated that Iran was ready to negotiate any individual and country except its arch foe, Israel.
Regarding Iran's disputed nuclear activities Ahmadinejad said his country was ready for negotiation over mutual cooperation "but we do consider it meaningless to talk over nuclear rights of Iranian nation."
Iran's comments come less than a week after Bush told a group of businessmen and women in Pennsylvania that he would negotiate with Iran if it suspended its nuclear program — something Iran has repeatedly refused to do. Bush also made similar comments in an interview aired Friday on Al-Arabiya TV.
Earlier on Sunday in the same context Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters, "Iran is ready for talks in a just, unconditional manner with mutual respect." He also said Bush's remarks were not new, but they were "clearer than previous times."
The Bush administration and others in the West have repeatedly voiced concern over Iran's uranium enrichment program, arguing it is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran rejects the claims, defying U.N. sanctions while stressing its program is peaceful and agreeing to answer questions from the U.N. nuclear agency