Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
said on Sunday Tehran would not negotiate about its disputed nuclear program
under pressure, but would talk to its adversaries if they stopped "pointing the gun".
In a speech to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad struck a more conciliatory tone than Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
who on Feb. 7 rebuffed a US call for direct negotiations on disputes between the two countries.
Ahmadinejad does not have the authority to authorize negotiations over the nuclear program, which lies with Khamenei.
The US and some of its allies suspect Iran may be trying to develop atomic weapons capability under the cover of a civilian nuclear energy program, a charge Iran
"You cannot point a gun at the Iranian nation and then expect them to have negotiations with you," Ahmadinejad said, speaking to a crowd gathered in Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square.
His speech, which partly dealt with Iran's policy towards its 'enemies', was carried live on Iranian state television.
"Talks should not be used as a lever to impose one's opinions."
He added: "If you stop pointing the gun at the Iranian nation, I will negotiate (with you) myself."
He said the West had recently taken a "better" tone toward Iran - a nod to statements made by Vice President Joe Biden last week, in which he said the United States was prepared talk directly to Iran. But the Iranian president said this was not enough.
"The Iranian nation will not give up one iota of its rights," Ahmadinejad said. "Your efforts had aimed at preventing us from become nuclear, but we did."
However Ahmadinejad admitted that sanctions have taken a bite. "Today, because of dishonorable pressure by enemies, people are under pressure. The government is concerned about the uneasy situation of a big portion of the country."
State TV meanwhile broadcast rallies throughout the country to mark the anniversary. Many demonstrators chanted "Down with the US" and "Death to Israel," slogans traditionally used to denounce the Islamic Republic's arch-enemies.
Khamenei on Thursday slapped down an offer of direct negotiations with the United States, saying negotiations and pressure were incompatible.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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