World Bulletin / News Desk
Iranians are rallying across the country to mark the 34th anniversary of the 1979 revolution that deposed a pro-West monarch and brought in the Islamic Republic.
State TV broadcast live on Sunday gatherings in Tehran and elsewhere across the country.
Many demonstrators were chanting "Down with the U.S." and "Death to Israel," slogans traditionally used to denounce the Islamic Republic's arch-enemies.
Iran has in recent years used the occasion to demonstrate defiance against Western pressure over its nuclear program.
The official IRNA news agency says celebrations will be held in some 5,000 sites across the country.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would not negotiate about its nuclear programme under pressure, but would talk to its adversaries if they stopped "pointing the gun".
Ahmadinejad struck a more conciliatory tone than Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on Feb. 7 rebuffed a U.S. call for direct negotiations on disputes between the two countries.
Ahmadinejad does not have the authority to authorise negotiations over the nuclear programme, which lies with Khamenei.
"You cannot point a gun at the Iranian nation and then expect them to have negotiations with you," Ahmadinejad said, speaking to a crowd gathered in Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square.
His speech, which partly dealt with Iran's policy towards its enemies, was carried live on Iranian state television.
"Talks should not be used as a lever to impose one's opinions.... If you stop pointing the gun at the Iranian nation, I will negotiate (with you) myself," he added.
On the nuclear dispute, Iran has agreed to a new round of talks with world powers in Kazakhstan on Feb. 26.
Ahmadinejad did not address the specifics of Iran's nuclear programme, or of the planned talks, in his speech on Sunday. He said that Iran would counter the sanctions by increasing its non-oil exports and weaning itself off crude revenues.
"Today the enemies are trying their utmost to put pressure on the Iranian nation to stop its progress but they will not succeed," he said.
Last week, the U.S. implemented a measure meant to "lock up" Iranian oil revenues by requiring them to be credited to accounts in countries that buy Iranian crude.
Supreme leader Khamenei on Thursday slapped down an offer of direct negotiations with the United States, saying negotiations and pressure were incompatible.
Khamenei was believed to have been replying to remarks by Vice President Joe Biden, who said in a speech in Germany on Feb. 2 that the United States was ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it was serious about negotiations.
Last Mod: 10 Şubat 2013, 13:57