If U.S. changes attitude, Iran will respond: Ahmadinejad

July 29, 2008 - 0:0

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said in an interview aired on U.S. television on Monday that if the United States adopted a genuinely new approach to his country Tehran would respond in a positive way.

“Today, we see new behavior shown by the United States and the officials of the United States. My question is, is such behavior rooted in a new approach?” the president told NBC.
“In other words, mutual respect, cooperation and justice? Or is this approach a continuation in the confrontation with the Iranian people, but in a new guise?” he said from Tehran.
If U.S. behavior represented a genuine change, “we will be facing a new situation and the response by the Iranian people will be a positive one”.
The interview came after the United States took the unprecedented step of sending a top diplomat to meet Iran's chief negotiator at talks in Geneva over Tehran's nuclear program.
On July 19, Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili held talks in Geneva with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana over ending Iran’s long-running nuclear standoff with the West.
Representatives from the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany also attended.
Iran is already under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its uranium enrichment program.
Iran, as signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has the right to enrichment for civilian purposes.
Ahmadinejad said he hoped the negotiations would yield progress.
“They submitted a package and we responded by submitting our own package. They again submitted a work plan and we submitted our own work plan,” he said in the interview.
Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany last month offered Iran an updated package of incentives in return for a halt to Tehran’s uranium enrichment program.
The package, which is a follow-up of an original proposal in 2006, offers nuclear cooperation and wider trade in aircraft, energy, high technology, and agriculture.
The Islamic Republic has also presented its own package of proposals on ways to address international challenges, including the threat of nuclear proliferation, and has said it has found common ground between the two separate packages.
Iran has repeatedly ruled out suspending uranium enrichment as a precondition for talks with the major powers and has said it will hold talks “only on common points”.
“It's very natural that in the first steps, we are going to negotiate over the common ground as it exists inside the two packages. If the two parties succeed in agreeing over the common ground, that will help us to work on our differences as well, to reach an agreement,” Ahmadinejad stated.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned Tehran of “punitive measures” if it fails to respond seriously to the sextet’s proposals.