Obama appeals to Iranian people

In new video, president says US still interested in dialogue [video inside].

March 21, 2010 04:20
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama.

Obama serious 311. (photo credit: AP)

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama told Iran’s leaders that his offer of diplomatic engagement over their nuclear program remains on the table during his annual Nowruz greeting.

The video message, delivered late Friday on the occasion of the Persian New Year, also took the Iranian government to task for not responding positively to America’s overtures. “Faced with an extended hand, Iran’s leaders have shown only a clenched fist,” he said.

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Yet Obama reiterated that “our offer of comprehensive diplomatic contacts and dialogue stands” and stressed that “the United States acknowledges your right to peaceful nuclear energy – we insist only that you adhere to the same responsibilities that apply to other nations.”

In his remarks, Obama also chided the regime for meeting “the aspirations of the Iranian people,” in the form of protests stemmed from flawed elections in June, “with a clenched fist” as well. He said that while “the United States does not meddle in Iran’s internal affairs,” at the same time, “our commitment – our responsibility – is to stand up for those rights that should be universal to all human beings.”

This is the second straight year Obama has made a video presentation in celebration of Nowruz, and it comes after a year of engagement on Iran’s nuclear program has failed to produce little progress in slowing its advance.

The administration is currently working with other nations on the UN Security Council to pass another round of sanctions against Teheran. Congress is also seeking stronger unilateral sanctions on Iran’s importing of gasoline in bills that have been passed by both houses and now need to be reconciled before being sent to the president.

The Security Council has in the past imposed limited sanctions on Iran for refusing to accede to international demands that it stop enriching uranium.

Obama said the US is pursuing this path of international coordination “to hold the Iranian government accountable” as over the past year “it is the Iranian government that has chosen to isolate itself, and to choose a self-defeating focus on the past over a commitment to build a better future.”

He told the leadership, “We are familiar with your grievances from the past – we have our own grievances as well, but we are prepared to move forward. We know what you’re against; now tell us what you’re for.”

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