Iranian presidential candidate Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani says he wants to improve relations with the United States, but he says Washington has to take the first steps in repairing broken ties.
Mr. Rafsanjani, who was Iran's president from 1989 to 1997, announced last week he will run again in June 17th elections. In an interview with Reuters the 70-year-old cleric said he will never abandon Iran's nuclear program, which he says complies with international law. He also said he will work to ensure that the current standoff between Tehran and Western governments over Iran's nuclear program does not turn into a military confrontation with Washington. The United States broke diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1980, after the seizure of American embassy hostages. In 2002, President Bush referred to Iran as part of an "axis of evil," along with North Korea and Iraq.