Obama calls on Iran to seize opportunity of nuclear talks

WASHINGTON, United States - US President Barack Obama on Thursday called on the "entire" government in Tehran to seize on nuclear talks with world powers to end Iran's economic isolation.

Obama made what appeared to be a direct effort to build political pressure among Iranians in favour of the nuclear diplomacy led by the government of President Hassan Rouhani in an annual video message to Iranians, marking the Nowruz, new year celebrations.

Obama noted in his message that Iranians had elected Rouhani last year to strengthen the economy, improve the lives of his people and engage constructively with the world.

"The economic hardship that so many Iranians have endured in recent years - because of the choices of Iranian leaders - has deprived your country and the world of the extraordinary skills and contributions you have to offer," Obama said.

"You deserve better," Obama said, making a highly political case to the Iranian people on the importance of reaching a final nuclear deal, which could loosen the damaging grip of economic sanctions on Iran's economy.

"If Iran meets its international obligations, we know where the path of dialogue and greater trust and cooperation can lead," Obama said, a day after the latest round of talks between P5+1 powers and Tehran wrapped up.

But Obama warned he was under "no illusions" and knew the work to cement an interim deal last year, in which Iran froze aspects of its nuclear programme in return for limited relief from sanctions, would be difficult.

Obama also sought to build political pressure on hardliners in the Iranian government noting that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had said Iran was not developing nuclear weapons.

"There is a chance to reach an agreement if Iran takes meaningful and verifiable steps to assure the world that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only," Obama said.

"Real diplomatic progress this year can help open up new possibilities and prosperity for the Iranian people for years to come," Obama said.