A senior Iranian official has welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's appeal for a "new beginning" in relations between Iran and the United States, but says words alone are not enough.
An aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali-Akbar Javanfekr said the U.S. must try to repair the damage done by its past mistakes, and make fundamental changes in its approach to relations with Tehran.
In a videotaped message to the Iranian people marking the New Year holiday of Nowruz, Mr. Obama said there are "serious differences" between the two countries but he is committed to diplomacy to address them.U.S. State Department spokesman, Robert Wood said the message was 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.Neither President Ahmadinejad nor Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, mentioned Mr. Obama's message in their own Nowruz greetings to the Iranian people.
But Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran has shown the world that nobody can stop its nuclear program.The White House released Mr. Obama's videotape message with Persian subtitles, and the president spoke directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic. He said the process of engagement will not be advanced by threats, but by honesty and mutual respect.Leaders of the European Union, Germany and France all welcomed Mr. Obama's overture to Iran. Mr. Obama's remarks are in contrast to those of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who tried to isolate Iran and described it as part of an "Axis of Evil."
Iranian President Ahmadinejad has said Iran is ready for talks with the U.S. in an atmosphere of "mutual respect."U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently invited Iran to take part in an international conference on Afghanistan.Israeli President Shimon Peres sent his own message to the Iranian people Friday to mark Nowruz. He urged Iran to return to its rightful place among developed nations.Nowruz is also celebrated by Kurds, Afghans and many other people in the Middle East and Central Asia. It falls on the spring equinox, when day and night are equal lengths.