TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s hard-line president told crowds celebrating the Islamic revolution’s anniversary Tuesday that the country is ready for talks with the United States, the strongest signal yet that Tehran welcomes President Barack Obama’s calls for dialogue.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the comments in a speech to hundreds of thousands celebrating the 30th anniversary of the revolution, which ousted the U.S-backed shah and installed rule by hard-line Muslim clerics. The event led to a collapse in relations between the two countries and years of enmity.
As usual at such gatherings, there were chants of “Death to America,” along with the burning of U.S. and Israeli flags. But the chanting stopped as Ahmadinejad spoke of dialogue with the U.S., and the firebrand president refrained from the denunciations of America that often mark his speeches.
Since Obama’s election, Iranian leaders have struck a cautious tone over his campaign promises to open a dialogue with Tehran, signaling that the government was undecided on how to respond.
“The Iranian nation is ready for talks (with the U.S.), but in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect,” Ahmadinejad told the crowds in Tehran’s Freedom Square on Tuesday.