TEHRAN - Iranian presidential election frontrunner Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Wednesday he was in favour putting an end to a quarter of a century of estrangement with the United States.
The top cleric and former president said however that it was Washington that needed to take the first step by sending a signal of goodwill.
"If they make a positive sign, I am one of those who believes that we need to sort out this problem," Rafsanjani said.
"I am convinced that it is the Americans who need to show their goodwill so that relations can resume," he was quoted as telling a gathering of university professors.
"They need to deal with us as equals and renounce their animosity."
Iran and the United States cut off diplomatic relations in 1980, after Islamic revolutionaries stormed the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 US personal hostage for 444 days.
But Rafsanjani, seen as a savvy deal-maker who favours closer ties with the West, has been playing up the issue in the run-up to the June 17 presidential poll - amid what appears to be a widespread desire within the Iranian public for the US problem to be resolved.