WASHINGTON: Barack Obama on Friday told Iran’s people that the United States wanted to engage with their country and end decades of strained relationship if their leaders stopped making threats.
The US president released a video message with Farsi subtitles that urged the two countries to resolve their long-standing differences. Obama released the video to coincide with the major Iranian festival of Nowruz, a 12-day holiday that marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of the new year in Iran. In the video, which has Farsi subtitles.
In the video, Obama said:
“In this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran’s leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the US, Iran and the international community.”
Obama has signaled a willingness to speak directly with Iran about its nuclear programme and hostility towards Israel, a key US ally.
While Iran played down President Barack Obama’s new video message to the Iranian people on Friday, saying it welcomed the overtures but warned that decades of mistrust could not easily be erased.
But in the first government reaction to the video, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s press adviser said “minor changes will not end the differences” between Tehran and Washington.
“Obama has talked of change but has taken no practical measures to address America’s past mistakes in Iran. If Obama takes concrete actions and makes fundamental changes in US foreign policy toward other nations including Iran, the Iranian government and people will not turn their back on him,”
Ali Akbar Javanfekr said.
But Iranian leaders have been not been as eager. Ahmadinejad has said Iran would welcome talks with the US but only if there was mutual respect. Iranian officials say that means the US needs to stop accusing Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons and supporting terrorism, charges Tehran has denied.
On Friday, Javanfekr blamed the United States’ “hostile policy toward Iran” for the tense ties between the two countries. He said Iranian’s “will never forget” Washington’s past actions including the US-backed coup that toppled the elected government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh in 1953, its backing of Saddam Hussein during Iraq’s war with Iran in the 1980s and the downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988 by a US naval ship.
But in Europe, the EU’s policy chief urged Iranian officials to accept Obama’s outstretched hand. “It is a very constructive message,” Javier Solana said at an EU summit in Brussels. “I hope that will open a new chapter in relations with Tehran.-SANA