Iran''s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday and called for "fundamental and fair" changes to U.S. policies in the region, Iran''s official IRNA news agency said.

"I congratulate you for attracting a majority of votes ... I hope you will prefer real public interests and justice to the endless demands of a selfish minority," Ahmadinejad told Obama in a statement published by IRNA.

Iranian officials have said Obama''s election victory on Tuesday showed the American people''s desire for fundamental change in domestic and foreign policy from the policies of President George W. Bush, who labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil."

"The great Iranian nation welcomes real, fundamental and fair changes in America''s behavior and policies, particularly in the Middle East region," Ahmadinejad said.

Tehran and Washington cut diplomatic ties shortly after Iran''s Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah.

The two countries have since been at odds over various issues, including Iran''s nuclear program, which Washington and its European allies say is a cover to build nuclear bombs. Iran insists its aim is to generate electricity.