Iran's caretaker foreign minister called on Saturday for "positive interaction" with the European Union, also talked of the need for cooperation with Saudi Arabia -- whose worries about Iran's nuclear programme were highlighted in a U.S. cable released by the WikiLeaks website last month.
"Iran and Saudi Arabia are two influential countries of the region and the Islamic world and, cooperating together, they can solve problems of the region," he said in his inaugural address.
He did not mention relations with the United States, often referred to in Iran as the "Great Satan", nor did he talk about Israel, a country it refuses to recognise.
But he appeared to offer an olive branch to the 27-nation European Union, which infuriated the Islamic Republic earlier this year by imposing new sanctions over its nuclear programme.
"Despite the EU's illogical, unprincipled and unjust behaviour, EU members are still seeking agreeable relations with Iran for a number of reasons including the energy issue," Salehi said, according to state broadcaster IRIB.
"If the EU speedily transforms its confrontational style into positive interaction it would be in the interests of both parties."
Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, was appointed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to replace Manouchehr Mottaki whom he sacked unexpectedly on Monday.
Salehi can remain foreign minister in a caretaker position for three months without the approval of parliament which would be needed to give him the post permanently.
The U.S.-educated nuclear scientist used his address, at a low-key ceremony, to send friendly signals to many countries with which Tehran has had bumpy relations in recent months.
"At an international level, for many reasons, China and Russia also enjoy a special place, and relations with those two countries require special political attention," he said.
Moscow and Beijing disappointed Tehran by backing Washington's push for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions in June.
Russia further angered Iran by refusing to complete an order for a missile defence system which could help fend off air strikes which the United States and Israel have said they could unleash to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons.
In a secret U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is reported to have encouraged Washington to "cut off the head of the snake" by launching military strikes on Iran's nuclear sites.
ReutersLast Mod: 18 Aralık 2010, 17:32