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. Obama's nuclear remark was 'cowboy' talk: Tehran
TEHRAN, Dec 11 (AFP) Dec 11, 2008
Iran's conservative parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani on Thursday branded US president-elect Barack Obama's comments on Tehran's nuclear activities as "cowboy" talk, the ISNA news agency reported.

"These comments resemble those of old American cowboys. If you have something to say about (Iran's) nuclear issue, just say so. Why wave a stick," asked Larijani, in a speech in Qazvin province.

"The new US president has said he wants to pressure Iran since it seeks to produce atomic weapons and because it supports the terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah," Larijani said.

"We are proud of supporting Hezbollah since they are defending their homeland and you are wrong in calling them terrorists," Larijani added.

Iran is a staunch supporter of the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Obama vowed "tough but direct diplomacy" with Iran, offering incentives along with the threat of tougher sanctions over its atomic programme.

As president from January 20, Obama said he would make clear to Tehran that the nuclear program was "unacceptable," along with support of Hamas and Hezbollah and its "threats against Israel."

Obama, whose offer of direct talks with Iran represents a break with three decades of US foreign policy, promised a "set of carrots and sticks in changing their calculus about how they want to operate."

Three days ago, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said "the carrot and stick approach has proven to be useless."

And two days ago, influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani accused Obama of mimicking predecessor George W. Bush's tough stance on Tehran's nuclear drive.

Washington severed ties with Iran in 1980 after Islamist students stormed its embassy in Tehran and took 50 diplomats hostage, whom they held for 444 days.

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