President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that he was ready to hold talks with the US if the West stopped pressuring his country.
It was the latest in a series of hints from leaders in both Washington and Tehran about the prospect of direct bilateral negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme.
However, Washington is highly unlikely to relax sanctions, and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on key state decisions, says the Islamic Republic will not negotiate under threat. This makes it hard to envision how talks could take place.
“You pull away the gun from the face of the Iranian nation, and I myself will enter the talks with you,” Mr Ahmadinejad, pictured, said at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the 1979 revolution.
He said the West had recently taken a “better” tone towards Iran – a nod to more conciliatory statements by the US Vice-President, Joe Biden, last week. But the Iranian President said this on its own was not enough.