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Iran's President Rouhani says determined to resolve nuclear issue

Iranian President Hassan Rohani gestures to the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013. REUTERS/Fars News/Majid Hagdost
Iranian President Hassan Rohani gestures to the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013. REUTERS/Fars News/Majid Hagdost

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday he was "seriously determined" to resolve a dispute with the West over Tehran's nuclear program and was ready to enter "serious and substantive" negotiations on the issue.

But addressing his first news conference as president, he said the other side should realize a solution could be reached "solely through talks, not threats". He said he was confident the concerns of both sides could be removed in a short time.

Hopes for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue have risen with Rouhani's win over conservative rivals in June, when voters replaced hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a cleric whose watchword is "moderation" but who is still very much an Islamic Republic insider.

The United States said it would be a "willing partner" if Iran was serious about finding a peaceful solution to the issue.

Iran's critics say that it has used previous nuclear negotiations as a delaying tactic while continuing to develop nuclear weapons-related technology - something Tehran denies. Iran says it needs atomic power for energy generation and medical research.

More generally, Rouhani said that if Washington demonstrated goodwill towards Iran and an atmosphere of mutual respect was created, the way was open for talks to remove the concerns of both sides.

(Reporting by Marcus George and Yeganeh Torbati; Writing by Jon Hemming and Mike Collett-White; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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