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Iran's new president: We're open to nuclear talks, but don't make threats

By Melissa Gray, CNN
updated 10:59 PM EDT, Tue August 6, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hassan Rouhani gives his first address since Sunday's inauguration
  • He wants other countries to recognize Iran's nuclear program is peaceful
  • Rouhani: If the U.S. has "good intentions," Iran is open for talks
  • He is not sure whether he will attend the U.N. General Assembly

(CNN) -- Iran's new president Tuesday repeatedly stressed his willingness to negotiate with the United States on his country's nuclear program, provided there are no "threats" and Washington recognizes the program is peaceful.

After giving his first address since Sunday's inauguration, Hassan Rouhani answered more questions about nuclear talks with the United States than about domestic issues.

"We will be acting very politely, prudently and wisely with the whole world in such a way that the world will make sure to understand that the Islamic Republic of Iran wants to pursue its own rights," he said.

"We don't want to threaten anyone, we do not want to meddle in any other country's affairs," Rouhani said. "They need to recognize that our activities are totally peaceful and legal."

Rouhani sworn in as Iran's new president
Iran after Ahmadinejad

He added, "we need to have negotiations without threats."

Iran insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian nuclear energy.

With the United States, Rouhani said he wants goodwill and good intentions "without any secret agenda." If they use that approach, he said, "the way for interaction will be open."

The White House on Sunday congratulated Rouhani on his inauguration and called it an opportunity for Iran to resolve the world's concerns about its nuclear program. Should Iran decide to engage on the nuclear issue, the White House said it would find a "willing partner" in the United States.

Rouhani said he has not yet decided whether to go to next month's United Nations General Assembly in New York and meet President Barack Obama.

"Americans need to hear the voice and message of the people," he said.

If talks don't work out, he said, "we have our own strategies, we have our action plan and our road map for measures that, if necessary as alternatives, will be taken. But what we are targeting now is via dialogues and negotiations which are wise and without any pessimism. We will hopefully be continuing the path and hopefully we will succeed.

"If any other alternative is needed, then we will deal with that in due time," Rouhani said.

Rouhani, 64, a cleric who is considered moderate, won the June elections with reformist backing. He campaigned on a "hope and prudence" platform in which he appealed to traditional conservatives and reform-minded voters alike.

As a former nuclear negotiator, he vowed to reduce the high tension between Iran and the outside world by addressing sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program.

A former commander of the Iranian air defenses, Rouhani led three war and defense councils. He was national security adviser to the president for 13 years before his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took office.

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