Ahmadinejad: I'll Seek Leniency for American Hikers

Iranian prez says country isn't a threat

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    Iran's president said he hopes to turn his country's relationship with the U.S. around.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he would seek “maximum lenience” for three American hikers who have been held since crossing the country’s border nearly two months ago.

    In an interview with The Associated Press in advance of U.N. General Assembly meetings, the Iranian leader said the hikers broke the law and did not elaborate on what lenience would mean. But his message was more conciliatory that usual, coming just days after Ahmadinejad said he was proud to be a Holocaust-denier.

    He explicitly said that his country was not building nuclear weapons and was not a threat to America. "I heard Mr. Obama saying the next threat is Iran. Iran is an opportunity for everyone," Ahmadinejad told the AP. "I hope that Mr. Obama will move in the direction of change," he added.

    Ahmadinejad also said he expected a “free and open” discussion at nuke talks next week with the U.S. and other world powers. But he warned Iran would not negotiate on its nuclear program.

    Get more: AP