Iran Says Dialogue of 'Equals' Possible with US
Agence France Presse
22 July 2011
TEHRAN — Iran may consider dialogue with the United States as long as it is between "equals" and Washington respects its people's rights, Foreign Minster Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview on Friday.
"We have not ruled out establishing relations with other countries barring the Zionist regime (Israel), but it is possible that our relations are in an unusual situation with countries like the United States," Salehi told the official IRNA news agency.
"If one day the United States agrees to a dialogue on an equal footing and without preconditions, while respecting the rights of our people, the situation will be different," he said.
Iran and the United States have had no diplomatic ties for more than 30 years, and relations have soured in recent years due to Tehran's nuclear drive and policies in the region.
Washington accuses Iran of supporting Islamist movements and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, as well as providing weapons to anti-US groups in Afghanistan and Iraq, which Tehran denies.
Last week, former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani came out in support of talks with Washington.
"I think today we can utterly negotiate on an equal footing and mutual respect with the United States," Rafsanjani told reformist website, irdiplomacy.ir.
Referring to Tehran's disagreement with the West over its nuclear programme, Salehi said: "No dispute is eternal and one day the Iranian nuclear dispute will be resolved.
"We seek a win-win solution, and if the Westerners believe in this, they can come to the negotiating table. We are ready. If they do not, they can continue, because the pressure will only strengthen us.
"If they want to continue for 30 more years their policy (of pressure and sanctions), we will not yield... because we have decided to pay the price for our independence," the minister said.
Iran said Tuesday it has begun installing new centrifuges with "better quality and speed" to enrich uranium in its nuclear facilities, a move that angered the United States and France.
Tehran remains adamant it will push ahead with the programme despite being targeted by four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend the enrichment.