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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It is time for Iran to decide whether to focus on the past or open the door to greater opportunity, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.
The statement, marking the 30th anniversary of the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the start of a 444-day hostage crisis, comes as a standoff continues between Iran and world powers over Tehran's dispute nuclear program continues.
"It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people," Obama said in the statement .
"Iran must choose," Obama said. "We have heard for thirty years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for."
Tehran and Washington have been at odds for years over Iran's nuclear program which Western powers fear is a covert effort to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies that and says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.
Western powers have urged Iran to accept a draft deal in which it would send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad by the end of the year for further enrichment to turn it into fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran.
However, on Monday an Iranian diplomat said additional talks were needed on the U.N.-drafted nuclear deal and that Tehran wants to import atomic fuel rather than send its own uranium abroad for processing.
Iranian militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Anthony Boadle)