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Obama Says Time For Iran To Build New Ties With U.S.

A blindfolded U.S. hostage is paraded by his captors at the compound of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has used the 30th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis to urge Tehran to make concessions over its nuclear program, saying it needs to turn the page on the past and forge a new relationship with the United States.

"It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity and justice for its people," Obama said in a statement on November 4.

"Iran must choose," Obama said. "We have heard for 30 years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for."

Tehran and Washington have been at odds for years over Iran's nuclear program, which Western powers fear is a covert effort to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies that and says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.

Iran said on November 2 that it wants more talks on a UN-drafted nuclear deal and to import nuclear fuel rather than send its own uranium abroad for processing, an Iranian diplomat said, terms world powers are likely to rebuff.

France, Germany, Britain, and Russia have urged Iran to accept the draft deal.

Obama said the United States has recognized Iran's right to peaceful nuclear power and has taken steps, along with other Western powers to restore Tehran's confidence.

"We have made clear that if Iran lives up to the obligations that every nation has, it will have a path to a more prosperous and productive relationship with the international community," Obama said in the statement.

Washington cut diplomatic ties with Tehran after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, when radical students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

"This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust, and confrontation," Obama said. "I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."

Iran was marking the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy on November 4.

On November 3, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic state would not be tricked into reconciliation with the United States, state radio reported.

"The American government is a really arrogant power and the Iranian nation will not be deceived with its apparent reconciliatory behavior until America abandons its arrogant attitude," Khamenei was quoted as saying by state radio.