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Iranian dissidents call for an end to U.S. sanctions

TEHRAN, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Iranian dissidents, including many now in prison, have asked President Obama to end U.S. sanctions and called for both countries to "turn a page."

The letter signed by 55 journalists, diplomats and political activists was published in the British newspaper The Guardian. The writers called the sanctions "devastating" and said they have had a "crippling" effect on the Iranian people.

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"We believe the time has come for our two countries to turn a page and start a new era of mutual understanding," the letter said.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran's new president, is considered a moderate. He said in his first news conference he would be willing to engage in talks with the United States.

The letter calls Rouhani "a politician known to be a firm believer in dialogue and constructive engagement in international relations."

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