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Ahmadinejad seeks win-win outcome from talks

(Reuters)
Filed on December 19, 2010

TEHRAN - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday he hoped for a “win-win” outcome from talks with world powers concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, striking an unusually conciliatory tone.

The comments, in a live television interview, echoed the stance of his new foreign minister who, earlier in the day, used his inaugural speech to call for “positive interaction” with the European Union, usually a target of Iranian hostility.

While giving no hint that Iran would change its stance in the talks, which resumed this month and are due to continue in Jannuary, Ahmadinejad said he hoped all parties could emerge with their “dignity and reputation” intact.

“The talks in Geneva, I think, were positive ones,” he said, referring to two-day negotiations in early December with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1). These restarted after more than a year during which international sanctions on Iran were ramped up.

Ahmadinejad called on the countries to end the sanctions and “to turn the policy of confrontation to interaction and cooperation”.

“If we move toward interaction it’s a win-win situation, there will be no loser. We want everyone to be a winner from the very beginning.”

Tehran recently fuelled up his first nuclear power plant and is pushing ahead with uranium enrichment, which is the greatest concern for countries suspicious that it is seeking weapons materials. Tehran says the programme is entirely peaceful.

Ahmadinejad said Iran had become nuclear and foreign powers should “admit this fact.” He hinted that he expected a round of talks to be held in Istanbul next month to be followed by further sessions in Brazil and Iran.

“I hope in talks in Istanbul, then in Brazil and then Tehran we could reach a framework of cooperation ... this is to everyone’s benefit,” he said.

The softer tone from Ahmadinejad, who said last week that countries that continued to pressure Iran would suffer a fate “worse than that of pharaohs and the tyrants of history”, came hours after his new foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi took office.

Agreeable

Salehi appeared to offer an olive branch to the 27-nation European Union, which infuriated the Islamic Republic earlier this year by imposing new sanctions.

“Despite the EU’s illogical, unprincipled and unjust behaviour, EU members are still seeking agreeable relations with Iran for a number of reasons including the energy issue,” Salehi said, according to state broadcaster IRIB.

“If the EU speedily transforms its confrontational style into positive interaction, it would be in the interests of both parties.”

Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, was appointed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to replace Manouchehr Mottaki, whom he sacked unexpectedly on Monday. Ahmadinejad’s media adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, said Mottaki had failed to carry out Ahmadinejad’s policies.

Analysts said the move showed Ahmadinejad’s dominance over rival hardline factions in government, but expected little policy change.

Salehi used his address to send friendly signals to many countries with which Tehran has had bumpy relations in recent months.

The US-educated nuclear scientist talked of the need for cooperation with Saudi Arabia — whose worries about Iran’s nuclear programme were highlighted in a US cable released by the WikiLeaks website last month.

He also said relations with Russia and China, who disappointed Iran by backing Washington’s push for a fourth round of sanctions in June, required “special political attention”.





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