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19:08 | 2009-03-06


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EX-Soviet Leader Calls for Talks on Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev called on the world community to resort to "maximal dialogue" instead of confrontation to resolve Iran's nuclear issue.

In an interview on Thursday with The Associated Press some 20 years after the Soviet empire started its rapid collapse, Gorbachev said, "Let (Iran) integrate itself into the global community, build normal relations."

Iran says its nuclear program is a peaceful drive to produce electricity so that the world's fourth-largest crude exporter can sell more of its oil and gas abroad.

The US and its western allies allege that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program while they have never presented corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations against the Islamic Republic.

Tehran also stresses that the country is pursuing a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

US President Barack Obama has also pledged to break the ice and open dialogue with Iran over its nuclear work and other regional issues. Israel, however, has escalated war rhetoric against Iran, repeatedly threatening Tehran with an attack on its nuclear facilities.

The UN nuclear watchdog, which conducts regular inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, said in its latest report on the country's nuclear program that there has been no diversion of "declared nuclear material in Iran."

Elsewhere, Gorbachev expressed skepticism about the wisdom of Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In the interview, Gorbachev was philosophical about his declining political fortunes.

"Personally, as a politician, I lost. But the idea that I conveyed and the project that I carried out, it played a huge role in the world and the country. But now the situation is such that more and more people are starting to understand what Gorbachev did ..."

"But anyway, we have gone far, and there's no return," he concluded.