Ahmadinejad says US must apologise for past 'crimes'

A day after US President Barack Obama offered a new approach to relations with Iran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the US must apologise for past "crimes" committed against his country if it seeks a thaw in relations.


AFP - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded on Wednesday that US President Barack Obama apologise for the "crimes" committed by the United States against Iran over the past 60 years.

The hardline leader also called on Washington to withdraw its troops from across the world as a proof of Obama's policy of change.

"You were standing against the Iranian people in the past 60 years," Ahmadinejad said during an address in the western region of Khermenshah that was broadcast by state television.

"Those who speak of change must apologise to the Iranian people and try to repair their past bad acts and the crimes they committed against Iran."

As to the troops, he said he expected two kinds of "deep and fundamental" change.

"Meet people, talk to them with respect and put an end to the expansionist policies. If you talk about change it must put an end to the US military presence in the world, withdraw your troops and take them back inside your borders."

Ahmadinejad said the advocates of change must "stop supporting the Zionists, outlaws and criminals."

He called on the United States to "stop interfering in other people's affairs."

He also said the US government should "let the American people decide their own future ... Stop pressuring them," he added, without saying what he was referring to.

Ahmadinejad said he welcomed change but the "change has to be fundamental."

"If someone wants to talk with us in the language that (George W.) Bush used ... even if he uses new words, our response will be the same that we gave to Bush during the past years," he added.

Tension between Washington and Tehran has been high over the latter's nuclear programme.

Bush refused to hold talks with Iran until it stopped its nuclear work, but on Monday Obama extended a diplomatic hand towards Tehran to break the deadlock.

In an interview with Al-Arabia television, Obama promised to lay a framework for his policy towards Iran.

"As I said in my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.

"It is very important for us to make sure that we are using all the tools of US power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran."

Also on Monday, Washington's UN ambassdor, Susan Rice, pledged "direct" support to Tehran if it halts the nuclear programme.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany have offered Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for halting its uranium enrichment programme.

But Tehran is pressing on with the work, insisting that its nuclear programme is peaceful and solely geared toward electricity generation.

The Security Council has already adopted four resolutions -- three of which included sanctions -- requiring Iran to suspend enrichment.

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