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Iranian leader welcomes Obama win

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President Ahmadinejad said opportunities were 'transient'

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has offered his congratulations to Barack Obama on his presidential win.

It is the first official message of goodwill presented to an American leader by the Islamic Republic.

In a key change to US foreign policy, Mr Obama has offered to open unconditional dialogue with Iran about its nuclear programme.

Mr Ahmadinejad called for the new US president to implement a foreign policy of "non-interference".

In a message carried on official news agency Irna, Mr Ahmadinejad said: "I congratulate you on being able to attract the majority of votes of the participants of the election."

The great nation of Iran welcomes basic and fair changes in US policies and conducts, especially in the region
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President

"As you know the opportunities provided by the Almighty God, which can be used for elevation of nations, or God forbid, for their collapse, are transient," the message continued.

"I hope you will prefer real public interests and justice to the never-ending demands of a selfish minority and seize the opportunity to serve people so that you will be remembered with high esteem," it said, according to the English language website of Irna.

Justice and respect

Mr Ahmadinejad said Americans expected the government to "rectify the critical situation facing the US, restore lost reputation as well as their hope and spirit, fully respect human rights and strengthen family foundations".

He continued: "Other nations also expect war-oriented policies, occupation, bullying, contempt of nations and imposing discriminatory policies on them to be replaced by the ones advocating justice, respect for human rights, friendship and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs.

"They also want US intervention to be limited to its [own] borders, especially in the Middle East. It is highly expected to reverse the unfair attitude towards restoring the rights of the Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans.

"The great nation of Iran welcomes basic and fair changes in US policies and conducts, especially in the region," President Ahmadinejad said.

Diplomatic stand-off

Formal contacts between the US and Iran are very rare, though the two countries held three rounds of talks in 2007 on the subject of security in Iraq.

The two nations have not had diplomatic relations since shortly after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the taking of hostages at the US embassy in Tehran for 444 days.

The country was a member of what President George W Bush called the "axis of evil", while the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini described the US as the "Great Satan".

Dialogue with Iran has been criticised by US ally Israel, with Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni calling on Mr Obama not to talk to Iran. She said such dialogue could project weakness.

Mr Ahmadinejad has made a series of blistering verbal attacks against Israel, calling for an end to the Israeli state, and he has described the holocaust as a "myth".

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