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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 13:13 GMT
Iran president 'ready for talks'
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's interview with ABC
Mr Ahmadinejad said Palestinians should decide their future

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has insisted that Tehran is open to talks on its nuclear programme.

Speaking to US TV network ABC, he said he opposed any increased nuclear proliferation, but said Iran's rights must be safeguarded.

He denied suggestions he sought conflict with the US, saying Iran was "trying to find ways to love people".

On Monday, Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran would defend itself against any US attack on its nuclear facilities.

He was speaking after US officials said they had evidence Iran was providing weapons to Shia militias in Iraq who were attacking the US military.

But President George Bush dismissed any suggestion that an attack was imminent, describing such speculation as "noise" by critics of his administration.

Iran has insisted it will continue to enrich uranium, in defiance of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Tehran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but the US suspects Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons.

Referendum call

Asked about his attitude towards Israel, Mr Ahmadinejad called for a referendum among Palestinians on their future.

"The right of Israel to exist is a question for the Palestinians," he said.

He referred to the fate of the Soviet Union, which disintegrated because of the decisions of the people, Mr Ahmadinejad said.

"Based on the charter of the United Nations, let the Palestinians decide.

"This is the right of the Palestinians to demand their future. Any decision made by the Palestinians should be respected."

He did not elaborate on what the proposal in any referendum should be, or on whether current Israeli citizens should be included in a vote.

But he accused Israel of massacres, of making Palestinians homeless, and of dividing families by imprisoning many Palestinian men.

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