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U.S. President Barack Obama should seize the opportunity to improve
U.S. President Barack Obama should seize the opportunity to improve ties with Iran, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Hassan Qashqawi said that any talks between the two countries, which have had no direct diplomatic relations since 1980, "would have to be held with mutual respect and on an equal status."

"Of course we believe that Obama will use the possibility for cardinal changes," he said. "We don't want to make any predictions, but the U.S. president should take this chance."

His comments came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tehran's readiness for dialogue with Washington.

"The Iranian people are ready for talks [with the U.S.], but these talks need to be held in an atmosphere of fairness and mutual understanding," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in Tehran on Tuesday to a crowd celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.  (VIDEO)

The 1979 revolution toppled the U.S.-backed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and was followed by the seizing of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by radical Islamic students.

U.S. President Barack Obama said at a White House press conference on Monday that his administration was in the process of evaluating the country's policy toward Iran and would look at the possibility of using "direct diplomacy" with the Iranian government.

In late January, Obama called both the Iranian people and Persian civilization "great." However, he also said that, "Iran has acted in ways that's not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region."

Qashqawi also said that Iran could, if asked, help NATO in solving its problems in Afghanistan.

"We have not received any official requests from NATO representatives," he said, adding that "Iran has done and will continue to do much for peace and security in Afghanistan."

He added that Iran would welcome any steps toward "reaching stability and development in neighboring Afghanistan" and that the Islamic Republic's First Vice-President Parviz Davoudi would visit Afghanistan next week in order to strengthen bilateral relations between Tehran and Kabul.


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