Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani has said he is seriously determined to resolve a dispute with the West over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Speaking in his first news conference as president on Tuesday, Rouhani said he was confident the concerns of both sides on the nuclear issue could be removed in a short time.

He said he was ready to enter "serious and substantive" negotiations on the issue but emphasised that the other side should realise that a solution could be reached "solely through talks, not threats.

"If the United States shows goodwill and mutual respect, the way for interaction will be open" he said.

EU call

Meanwhile EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, who leads talks with Tehran on its disputed nuclear programme, called on Rouhani to agree a fresh round of negotiations as soon as possible.

The only thing that has worked in the last two decades is pressure. And the only thing that will work now is increased pressure.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli PM

Ashton in a letter offered her congratulations on Rouhani's inauguration and said he had won "a strong mandate to engage in dialogue and cooperation with the international community to seek a swift resolution to its serious concerns about Iran's nuclear activities.

"I hope that we can schedule meaningful talks with your negotiating team as soon as practicable," she said. 

Despite Iranian denials, the West is convinced Tehran is pursuing a nuclear bomb.

Rouhani, a moderate cleric who won a landslide victory in the June 14 presidential elections, said in his inaugural address that the only way to interact with Iran is through dialogue.

The US said the inauguration of Rouhani "presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community's deep concerns over their nuclear programme".

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said "there are steps they need to take to meet their international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, and the ball is in their court".

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for "increased pressure" on Iran, saying it was the "only thing" that would deter it from pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

"Iran's president said that pressure won't work," Netanyahu told a delegation of 36 visiting US Congressmen.

"Not true! The only thing that has worked in the last two decades is pressure. And the only thing that will work now is increased pressure," Netanyahu said in remarks relayed by his office.

Source: Agencies