Iran sends conflicting signals after US lawmakers call for negotiations

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Rouhani takes office on Aug. 3. His election among a slew of Khamenei-approved candidates has been greeted with cautious optimism by the White House and some in Congress, who believe he could be willing to abandon the country's alleged nuclear weapons program after he called for a “policy of reconciliation and peace.”

The letter to Obama was spearheaded by Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and David Price (D-N.C.), who have called for greater outreach toward Iran in the past. This year's letter however garnered almost twice the support of last year's effort, when only 71 lawmakers signed on.

Critics say Iran is simply stalling for time.

The House and Senate Foreign Affairs panels are currently weighing new sanctions in a bid to choke off Iran's access to currency sources and precipitate an economic crisis forcing the country to shut down its alleged nuclear weapons program. Iran says its program is solely for civilian purposes.

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