Iran's supreme leader says U.S. President Barack Obama's call for
better ties was just a "slogan of change," but he left open the
possibility of improved relations with the United States.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday he sees no real change in U.S.
policy toward Iran, but noted that if Washington changes, Tehran also
will change its behavior.
Khamenei spoke to a crowd of thousands in the holy city of Mashhad, a
day after Mr. Obama addressed the Iranian people in a videotaped
message marking the start of the Persian New Year holiday of Nowruz.
The supreme leader also asked how President Obama could congratulate
Iranians on Nowruz, but at the same time accuse them of supporting
terrorists and seeking nuclear weapons.
In his message, Mr. Obama called for a "new beginning" in U.S.-Iranian relations.
He said he is committed to diplomacy to address "serious differences" between the two countries.
Ayatollah Khamenei also used his speech Saturday to list Iran's
grievances with the United States from the past 30 years, including
U.S. support for former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and
the U.S. downing of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988.
He told the crowd in Mashhad that Iran will continue to watch the U.S. and then judge the country on its actions.
A U.S. State Department spokesman (Robert Wood) said
Friday the Nowruz message from President Obama is one of several
gestures planned by the administration to advance better relations with
Iran. He said the U.S. was looking for a reciprocal gesture from Iran.