Iran tells Obama not to miss chance for talks

February 12, 2009

TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran reiterated on Wednesday its desire for talks with the new administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as both sides show tentative signs of shifting policy after three decades of severed ties, AFP reported.

“In order to prevent any pre-judgement, we think Mr. Obama should be given this opportunity. We don’t want Mr. Obama to miss this opportunity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told reporters.
Qashqavi, however, insisted that any dialogue must be based on conditions of “mutual respect and fair play.”
He stressed that Washington had to show “serious and fundamental changes in its policies” if the talks were to be fruitful.
In an interview with pan-Arab Al-Arabiya television last month, Obama said, “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fists, they will find an extended hand from us.”
“We have never clenched our fists. (Obama’s predecessor George W.) Bush had clenched them,” he said.
Obama’s offer was a clear shift from the policy of Bush who had refused to talk to Iran unless it halted uranium enrichment.
Qashqavi also dismissed reports that Iran was buying raw uranium. “These are not hidden matters,” he said, describing the reports as “just speculation”.
“We saw these reports and they do not have any scientific basis and official sources like the agency (International Atomic Energy Agency) have not said anything about it either.”
According to BBC, Qashqavi, on reports that a ship called Monchegorsk and detained off Cyprus is carrying Iranian weapons destined for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, said, “The ship was not taking arms and weapons (to Gaza).”
Cypriot authorities had inquired about the ship’s cargo and “if it was carrying weapons things would have been clear”, he added.
The Cypriot-flagged ship now is anchored off the port of Limassol under tight security.
Elsewhere in his interview, Qashqavi says Iran is indifferent to Israel’s elections, adding the event became a hotbed for Tel Aviv to outline its anti-peace plans, Press TV reported.
“The candidates running in these elections are not different. The only difference between them is in the way they plan to repress the Palestinian people,” he said.
Qashqavi expressed shock at how Israeli parties had chosen to represent themselves as the side that would take the most aggressive stance toward the Palestinians in order to win the majority of the votes.
Qashqavi also said the verdict issued by Imam Khomeini about apostate author Salman Rushdie was still valid, IRNA reported.
He stressed that, unlike political decisions, a religious decree will be in place until it is nullified by the cleric who has issued it.