Senior Iranian cleric urges Tehran, Washington to 'join hands'

A senior Iranian cleric urgedWashington and Tehran on Friday to "join hands" to endsanctions, local media reported, underlining the support ofIran's influential religious establishment for President HassanRouhani's diplomatic offensive.

Rouhani made overtures to the West last week during a visitto the UN headquarters in New York and then spoke by telephonewith US President Barack Obama in the highest-level contactbetween the two countries since 1979.

The US lead negotiator with Iran, Under-Secretary of StateWendy Sherman, has held out the possibility of giving Iran someshort-term sanctions relief in return for concrete steps to slowuranium enrichment and shed light on its nuclear programme.

"We await practical measures by US officials," clericKazem Sedighi told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran,according to Iranian television.

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