WASHINGTON — Iran's foreign minister said on Sunday that his country was willing to negotiate with the United States over its nuclear program but that Washington needed to reciprocate by stopping the sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.
Taking a tone that was conciliatory at times but mainly tough, Mohammad Javad Zarif said on ABC's “This Week” that the United States and Iran had taken the “first step in removing the tensions, doubts and misgivings that the two sides have had about each other for the last 30-some years.”
Zarif met with the secretary of State last week in New York, and President Obama spoke by phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the nations' first direct contact at that level since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Zarif insisted that Tehran never had military intentions with its uranium enrichment.
“Iran is prepared to start negotiating” on the issue, he said, adding that the United States also must do certain things, including halting what he contended were “illegal sanctions against Iran that are targeting ordinary Iranians.”
Iran has been hit with sanctions from the U.N. Security Council and measures aimed at its oil and banking sectors imposed by the United States and the European Union.
“We believe that if the United States is ready to recognize Iran's rights, to respect Iran's rights and move from that perspective, then we have a real chance, and we negotiate with the full authority of the leader,” Zarif said, referring to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.
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