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Iran President Rouhani pushes for nuclear talks with West

President Hasan Rouhani has told the US and other Western nations that Iran's right to enrich uranium must come as part of any nuclear deal. He added his country is "loyal" to its promise not to pursue nuclear weapons.

Speaking on the eve of his trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Rouhani laid out his demands for reaching a deal over Iran's nuclear program.

"Iran has joined all treaties including the non-proliferation treaty, or NPT, and is loyal to it," Rouhani said during an annual military parade Sunday. "The Iranian nation is ready for negotiation and talks with the West."

"If they accept these rights, the Iranian people are a rational people, peaceful and friendly. We stand ready to cooperate and together we can settle all the region's problems and even global ones," he added

Moderate pushes for talks

Rouhani, who was elected in June, has been pushing to revive stalled talks with the West, who claim Iran's uranium enrichment program is a sign it intends to develop a nuclear weapon.

While in New York for the General Assembly, he is slated to give a keynote speech and meet on the sidelines with French President Francois Hollande.

Iran's new foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, is already in New York for talks with his British and French counterparts, along with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Rouhani, seen as a relative moderate, was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator in the early 2000s when the country agreed to suspend their uranium enrichment.

Tension with the US

However, the White House has said that Rouhani's government must do more than make promises to have Washington's crippling economic sanctions against Iran lifted.

"We've always made clear that we'll make judgments based on the actions of the Iranian government, not just on their words," national security spokesman Ben Rhodes said Friday.

"We do have a preference for resolving this issue diplomatically," he added, while warning that: "We want to make clear that there's not an open window for diplomacy."

Rouhani addressed the remarks on Sunday by saying that the US cannot "use the language of war and diplomacy at the same time."

He also urged the US, which supports the opposition rebels in Syria's civil war and has threatened military strikes in response to the government's alleged chemical weapons use, not to view Syria and the region "through a policy of expanding war."

dr/jr (AFP, AP, Reuters)