Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday said his country was open to re-establishing relations with the U-S but must be assured that Washington is sincere.
In a rare speech by an Iranian official to an American audience, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi criticised U-S sanctions that could punish three international companies that have signed a multi-billion dollars deal to develop an Iranian natural gas field.
Also in New York, Iranian protesters gathered outside the U-N headquarters to protest against the new government of Iran.
A large crowd of students, journalists and academicians were on hand to welcome Iran's Foreign Minister Dr. Kamal Kharrazi at New York's Columbia University on Tuesday.
They heard him urge Americans to rethink their attitude towards Iran.
Kharazzi said Iran's new government was open to re-establishing relations with the United States.
These relations broke down in 1979.
"American policy toward Iran has been one of active hostility. Although in the American academic circles and some of the think-tanks there has emerged a better understanding and realisation of Iran. The official policy reflects misjudgement and misunderstanding of the realities of our domestic and foreign policies as well as our culture and revolution. Therefore, the change of attitude and policy should come from the United States. The ball is in their court."
SUPER CAPTION: Dr. Kamal Kharrazi, Foreign Minister of Iran
Kharrazi criticised a U-S law that could punish three international companies that have signed a two (b) billion U-S dollars deal to develop an Iranian natural gas field.
"This was a wrong decision by the Congress here to impose sanctions on Iran and to decide to punish those countries who make agreements with Iran in terms of investments in Iranian oil industry and this is the start of this process and I believe there will be more companies and more countries to get involved in doing business and investing in Iranian petroleum industries."
SUPER CAPTION: Kamal Kharrazi, Foreign Minister of Iran
On the other side of New York, a small group of Iranian protesters shouted loudly to make their voices heard over the hub-bub of 1st Avenue in front of the United Nations.
They were condemning Iran's government as terrorists.
Elections last May brought to power moderate cleric Mohammad Khatami.
But the protesters argued that the president was just like the mullahs who preceded him.