Teheran will "remove obstacles" blocking negotiations with the United States if Washington shows good will, a powerful leading rival of Iran's hard-line president said. But US President George W. Bush dismissed the possibility of talks, while accusing Iran of supplying deadly weapons to fighters in Iraq.
Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, a high-ranking cleric, has no formal foreign policy portfolio but holds seats on two of Iran's most important government bodies. Seen as one of the country's most influential figures, Rafsanjani in recent weeks has become an increasingly high-profile public advocate of a more conciliatory stance towards the US and its allies in the dispute over Teheran's nuclear program.
"Any time the United States sends a signal showing good will in its dealings with Iran, we will in return remove obstacles in the way of negotiations," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Rafsanjani as saying Wednesday.
Bush said at a Washington news conference that bilateral talks with Iran were unlikely to yield results in the international push to halt Iran's nuclear program.
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