Iran's new president yesterday called on the West to abandon the "language of sanctions" in dealing with his country over its nuclear programme, hoping to ease the economic pressures now grinding its people.
President Hassan Rowhani spoke after being sworn in as president, capping a weekend that saw him endorsed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.
Rowhani, a moderate cleric who won a by a landslide in the June 14 elections, continued his call for dialogue with the West while asking foreign powers to respect Iran in its negotiations.
"If you seek a suitable answer, speak to Iran through the language of respect, not through the language of sanctions," the president said in a speech broadcast live by Iranian state television.
He later added that any negotiations would require "bilateral trust building, mutual respect and the lessening of hostilities".
Iran is under United Nations sanctions as well as unilateral Western oil and banking sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to power reactors producing electricity or build nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and geared towards generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.
The sanctions have hit the country's oil exports and blocked transactions on international banking networks. Inflation is running at more than 35 per cent.
The Iranian rial has now lost more than two-thirds of its value against the US dollar since 2011.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Rowhani's inauguration represented "an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community's deep concerns over Iran's nuclear programme".
He said: "Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States."