US willing to talk to Ahmadinejad government


Washington : The United States said Wednesday that it would be willing to engage the Iranian government led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was sworn in for a second term Wednesday despite questions about his recent re-election.

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“We will deal with whatever government there is in Iran, should that government be willing to engage with the United States,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said.

The administration of President Barack Obama wants to explore holding direct talks with Tehran to address a host of regional issues, most notably Iran’s alleged desire to obtain nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad won a disputed June 12 election, the outcome of which was challenged by thousands of protesters who have taken to the streets since to argue the result was fraudulent.

Wood said the demonstrations by supporters of Ahmadinejad’s challenger, reformist Mir-Hossein Moussavi who has refused to accept his opponent’s victory, raised questions about faith in Ahmadinejad’s leadership. Iran’s violent crackdown against the protests prompted strong international criticism.

“Although Ahmadinejad has been inaugurated, clearly the Iranian people have many questions about, you know, this election and his ability to lead,” Wood said.

The US has urged Iran to return to negotiations led by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – plus Germany.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Washington will push for fresh UN sanctions if Iran does not re-enter the discussions by the time of the UN General Assembly opens in mid-September. US officials have refused to confirm that report.