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US must admit wrongs, Iran says

Calls for America to rethink policies

By George Jahn and David Rising
Associated Press / February 7, 2009
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MUNICH - Iran sternly dismissed decades of US policies targeting Tehran and declared yesterday that the new American administration had to admit past wrongs before it could hope for reconciliation.

The comments by Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani at an international security conference in Munich appeared to be the most detailed outline yet of Tehran's expectations from President Obama's administration.

"The old carrot and stick policy must be discarded," he said, alluding to Western threats and offers of rewards to coax Iran to give up nuclear activities the West views as threatening. "This is a golden opportunity for the United States."

Obama has said the United States is ready for direct talks with Iran in efforts to overcome concerns that its nuclear program could be used to develop atomic weapons. Tehran denies that and insists its aims are peaceful.

The former US administration refused one-on-one negotiations with Tehran on the issue unless it made significant nuclear concessions beforehand.

There was no immediate US reaction to Larijani's comments.

Vice President Joe Biden was due at the conference today and was expected to try to muster more European troops for Afghanistan. But there is no sign that general European favor for the new US administration has overcome the reluctance of some allies to contribute more soldiers.

Afghanistan will be high on Biden's priority list at the security conference, where he will speak to the gathering of world leaders today and hold bilateral meetings with Russia, Georgia, Germany, France, and Britain. He will be joined by retired Marine Corps General James Jones, President Obama's national security adviser.

The United States plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, roughly doubling its presence. But coming into the conference, German officials have reiterated that they do not want to commit to more forces. Still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said before the meetings that did not mean the door to such discussions was closed.

Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to push allies at the conference for a greater share of the diplomatic, military, and economic burdens confronting the Obama administration in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

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