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Iran's president heads to UN with calls for 'interaction' with West, denounces sanctions

Iran's president is en route to New York after urging the West to heed his appeals for greater dialogue and denouncing economic sanctions as a dead-end strategy.

Hasan Rouhani says he hopes to use this week's annual U.N. General Assembly gathering to win Western promises to restart stalled talks over Tehran's nuclear program. Rouhani is urging the U.S. and allies to ease sanctions to move ahead the negotiations.

The official IRNA news agency quotes Rouhani as saying Monday before he left for the U.N. that the West should choose the "path of interaction, talks and leniency, so we can reach joint interests."

He also called sanctions "unacceptable and illegal," a roadblock to progress on settling the nuclear impasse.

The West suspects Iran is pursuing nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge.