Iran is ready to discuss its nuclear programme with world powers, according to the country's president.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was talking in the wake of new sanctions imposed by the European Union, including an embargo on Iranian oil exports and sanctions against its central bank in an effort to raise pressure on the country over its controversial nuclear programme.
The president denied that Iran was trying to avoid discussions, telling state media: "They have this excuse that Iran is dodging negotiations while it is not the case... ", adding: "Why should we run away from the negotiations?"
Ahmadinejad was responding to comments made by the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in Israel on Tuesday, who urged the Iranian government to re-enter negotiations.
"The European Union stands together in sending that clear message to the government of Iran, that we wish to go back to negotiations, to invite them to pick up the issues which were left on the table in Istanbul a year ago, to invite them to consider the ideas we have put forward or indeed to put forward ideas of their own and to move forward, away from the path of the acquisitions of nuclear weapons," Ashton said.
The president insisted the sanctions would have no effect on the country, telling AFP: "Once our trade with the Europe was around 90% but now it has reached to 10% and we are not seeking this 10%... experience has shown that Iranian nation will not be hurt.
"For the past 30 years the Americans have not been buying oil from us. Our central bank has no relations with you," he added.
The last round of talks with Iran, which has consistently denied its nuclear programme is for military purposes, was with major powers including France, Great Britain, China, Germany, the USA and Russia a year ago but the negotiations collapsed.