President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that talks with the United States would only be possible if Washington changes its policy toward Iran.
Ahmadinejad was referring to President Bush’s comment last week that the United States would be willing to negotiate with Iran if it suspended its nuclear program.
“We firstly say that we never asked for negotiations with the United States. Negotiations with the US will happen when the US government applies basic changes in its behavior and attitude,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.
The United States and other Western countries allege that Iran is secretly trying to build nuclear weapons, but they have never presented any corroborative documents to substantiate their claims. Iran has dismissed those concerns, insisting its program is only for the peaceful purpose of pursuing alternative energy sources.
Iran has refused to suspend its uranium enrichment program despite UN Security Council sanctions. But it has agreed to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear monitor.
Last week, Bush told a group of businessmen in Pennsylvania that he would negotiate with Iran if it suspended its nuclear program. He made similar comments in an interview aired Friday on Al-Arabiya TV.
Earlier Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said, “Iran is ready for talks in a just, unconditional manner with mutual respect.”
He said Bush’s remarks were not new, but they were “clearer than previous times.”