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Iran's Ahmadinejad wants talks with West. Iran's hard-liners balk.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said this week he's open to talks, has lost the backing he enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of last year's election.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on Sept. 21.

Aaron Jackson/AP

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Since his arrival in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's flamboyant commentary has kept much of the world fixated on Tehran's controversial nuclear program and external political disputes.

But such tactics have steered public attention away from Iran's more vulnerable concerns, such as the country's shaky economy, a harsh crackdown on journalists and opposition figures, and internal rivalries that could complicate Mr. Ahmadinejad's apparent willingness to relaunch nuclear talks with the West and reconcile with the US after more than 30 years.

"There is a clear effort to appeal to the West, and the point is to initiate the process [for discussions],” says a Tehran-based analyst with close ties to the government who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons. “If he manages to do it, that's even a major step. A deal with America ... is the golden trophy in Iranian politics.”

Indeed, the Iranian president softened his rhetoric Tuesday, repeating a call for new talks with the West over Iran's disputed nuclear program.

"We have always been prepared to talk," Ahmadinejad told American reporters over breakfast, according to Politico. "We are prepared now as well and I probably would say there is a good chance that talks will resume in the near future,” he said.

But analysts inside the Islamic Republic say that while the president arrived in New York aiming to restart nuclear talks with the West, he faces strong opposition from much of Iran's conservative establishment.

Ahmadinejad battling conservatives – even in his own camp


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