Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that he is ready to have talks with United States if the West stops pressuring his country, the latest in a series of hints from leaders in both Washington and Tehran about the prospect of direct bilateral negotiations over the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear programme.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaks during an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Tehran on Sunday.
"You pull away the gun from the face of the Iranian nation, and I myself will enter the talks with you," Mr. Ahmadinejad said at a ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of the 1979 revolution that toppled a Western-backed monarch and ushered in the Islamic Republic.
The West claims Iran's nuclear activities are aimed at developing weapons. Iran denies it seeks atomic arms, saying its nuclear fuel is only for energy-producing reactors and medical applications, and insists that its operations will continue.
"The Iranian nation will not give up one iota of its rights," Mr. Ahmadinejad said. "Your efforts had aimed at preventing us from become nuclear, but we did."
Mr. Ahmadinejad also said Iran will soon send a satellite into geostationary orbit.
"God willing, soon Iran's satellite will be located at an orbit at (an altitude of) 36,000 kilometres next to others from four or five advanced powers and it will relay a message of peace and fidelity to all world," said Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Iran regularly announces technological breakthroughs, most of which are impossible to verify independently. Iran says it has launched small satellites to low orbits of up to 450 kilometres. In January, Iran claims it sent a monkey into suborbital space and recovered the animal safely. It says it hopes to send astronauts to orbit by 2018.
Iran displayed a model of the Pishgam rocket, which the country says it used to send the monkey into space, in a corner of Tehran's Azadi Square where demonstrators gathered to listen to the president.
State TV meanwhile broadcast rallies throughout the country to mark the anniversary. Many demonstrators chanted "Down with the U.S." and "Death to Israel," slogans traditionally used to denounce the Islamic Republic's arch-enemies.
Source: The AP