Parliamentary speaker: There is need for action. The US needs to change the way it behaves towards Iran.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
When it comes to dealing with Iran, the country's parliamentary speaker said the United States would be better served taking up chess than continuing to box, the country's official news agency reported.
"The United States needs to play on a chess set (with Iran) instead of playing in a boxing ring," IRNA quoted Ali Larijani as telling a group of visiting reporters in Teheran Saturday.
His comments come at a time when the new administration of President Barack Obama has signaled a new willingness to engage Iran, whose relations with the previous administration were long strained. Obama last week pledged to rethink Washington's relationship with Teheran.
And at his inauguration last month, Obama said his administration would reach out to rival states, saying "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has responded by saying Iran would welcome talks with the United States - but only if there was mutual respect.
Iranian officials have said that would mean that the United States needs to stop making "baseless" accusations against the Islamic Republic in order to pave the way for talks between the two longtime adversaries. The US accuses Iran of supporting terrorism and secretly seeking to build nuclear weapons - charges Iran denies.
Larijani, a conservative close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said actions by the United States were creating obstacles in the way of any rapprochment. Specifically, he said the US has supported Iranian terrorist groups, disrespected Iran's rights and has repeatedly charged that Iran is seeking an atomic bomb.
Iran has accused the United States of secretly supporting the People's Mujahedeen, an organization dedicated to the overthrow of the Iranian government. The US denies this and also considers the organization a terrorist group.
According to IRNA, he said the problems between the two countries couldn't just be resolved "through words. There is a need for action. The US needs to change the way it behaves toward the Iranian nation."
Iranian officials have long argued that no talks will succeed unless Washington deals with Iran as an equal party and not seeking to impose its will on the Persian nation.
Last week, Ahmadinejad declared that Iran is now a "superpower" - pointing to the recent launch of the first locally made satellite into space - and made clear it expects to be treated as an equal.
The United States and Iran severed relations after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran by hard-line Iranian students.
Relations deteriorated even further after the Sept. 11 attacks when former President George W. Bush declared Iran belonged to an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and North Korea. Ahmadinejad widened that gap after he was elected in 2005 and defied the US and its allies by pursuing Iran's controversial nuclear program.
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