Iran's new president has said a "win-win" deal with world powers over its nuclear program is possible, but time for an agreement is "limited." His remarks come ahead of his address at the UN General Assembly this month.
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said Monday the Islamic Republic could foresee a "win-win game" in hitherto stalled talks with the West over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
"In the nuclear issue the end of the game must be a win-win game. Win-lose has no meaning," Rouhani said in statements carried by Iranian state television.
"We can have a win-win game, we are ready for a win-win game."
Rouhani has stressed a more diplomatic approach in Iran's foreign and domestic policies since taking over from his hard-line predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He warned, however, that time was not unlimited for ending the deadlock in negotiations.
"The world should know that the period for solving the nuclear case will not be unlimited," Rouhani said. "We have a specified period of time."
"The world must also use this period of time and this opportunity that our people created in [my] election. We will also use this opportunity. God willing, I am hopeful we can, step by step, solve this problem."
Western powers have expressed concern that Iran's nuclear ambitions, particularly its uranium enrichment program, could be used for the creation of an atomic bomb.
The Islamic Republic has consistently argued that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, such as power generation and cancer treatment and Rouhani said his administration had the "necessary determination and mechanism" to eradicate Western suspicions.
He warned, however, that Iran would not give up "one iota" of its nuclear rights, reiterating a stance taken by Ahmadinejad.
Iran "will not withdraw an iota from the definite rights of people," the president said.
Rouhani to address General Assembly
Iran's new president is due to travel to New York later this month alongside his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. He is scheduled to address the annual UN General Assembly on September 24, hours after US President Barack Obama.
He said the trip, which will be his first visit to the West since his inauguration in August, could be a chance for progress.
"I think the beginning of this work will start in New York," the president said.
According to Iranian news agency ISNA, Rouhani said talks with the foreign ministers from some of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the P5+1, could begin in New York.
"The negotiations could already start there and be continued later at another location," he was quoted as saying.
Talks between Iran and world powers were last held in April, but Western attempts to rein in Tehran's nuclear program ended in deadlock. Rouhani has since transferred responsibility for Iran's long-running nuclear talks with the 5+1 group to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, headed by Zarif.
Zarif has already agreed to meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on September 22 in New York to discuss a return to the stalled P5+1 talks.
The UN General Assembly is the only opportunity for presidents of Iran to enter the United States, as the Islamic Republic has no diplomatic relations with the US.
ccp/kms (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)