Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on U.S. President Barack Obama to see Iran as a potential friend instead of a threat ahead of speeches the two leaders will give to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. According to the AP, the Iranian leader also said in that he expects "free and open" discussion of nuclear issues at a meeting next week with six world powers, but stressed that his country would not negotiate on its own nuclear rights.
He said the onus should be on the United States and other major nuclear powers to give up their weapons and to expand opportunities for all countries to make peaceful use of nuclear power. Ahmadinejad stated he will seek a quick resolution to the case of three American hikers jailed in Iran.
He dismissed last week's U.S. shift away from a planned long-range missile shield in Europe, meant to guard against an Iranian strike, as "a respectful way of buying out" Russian objections.
"I heard Mr. Obama saying the next threat is Iran. Iran is an opportunity for everyone," Ahmadinejad said.
The Iranian leader said Obama is not the first U.S. president to believe Iran is a threat and said the president should read up on history "to see what the fate is of viewing these problems from this perspective." "Historically, whoever made friends with Iran saw a lot of opportunities," Ahmadinejad said.
He reiterated explicitly that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. "I hope that Mr. Obama will move in the direction of change," Ahmadinejad said. At another point he said, "The sources of insecurity around the world need to be discussed."