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(photo credit: AP)
The Obama administration is preparing a letter to Iran intended to warm relations and pave the way for direct talks between Washington and Teheran, The Guardian reported Thursday.
Work on the document reportedly began immediately following the November election, upon receipt of a letter of congratulations sent to the elected president by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Jerusalem Post could not confirm this report.
Diplomats quoted by the paper said the letter, which has seen several drafts so far, would aim to change the US tone towards Iran and offer a different stance on relations between the nations. In it, Obama would seek to assure Teheran that the US is not interested in toppling the Islamic regime, but only to see a change in its conduct.
One of the drafts reportedly calls on the Iranian leader to note the superior standards of living in neighboring countries and consider the advantages of lifting the Islamic Republic's pariah status in the international community.
While its tone is described as conciliatory, the letter also calls on Iran to stop sponsoring terror.
The letter would either be sent to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or released as an open letter. It is being considered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as part of a general review of Washington's policy on Iran.
On Wednesday a close aide to Ahmadinejad said Iran will not halt its nuclear activities as demanded by Obama's administration.
"We have no non-peaceful activities to suspend. All our activities are peaceful and under the supervision of the IAEA," Aliakbar Javanfekr told Reuters.
Javanfekr also dismissed UN resolutions demanding Iran suspend uranium enrichment. "We have passed that stage. We have rejected resolutions. Those resolutions were issued under US pressure. We work in the framework of international laws."
"Obama should act realistically to avoid repeating [former US president George W.] Bush's mistakes," he added.
Three rounds of UN sanctions have been imposed on Iran but Javanfekr said they were "ineffective."
Javanfekr also rejected Obama's calls for Iran to "unclench its fist," saying its was "illogical to talk about unclenching fists when Iran is surrounded by American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Referring to the Obama administration's suggestion of direct talks, Javanfekr said, "We are ready for talks with some preconditions ... including ending America's military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said and repeated the demand for an apology.
Earlier Wednesday, Ahmadinejad called for "profound changes" in US foreign policy - including an end to support for Israel and an apology to the Islamic republic for past misdeeds.
Ahmadinejad also urged Washington to withdraw its troops stationed around the world. He said Iran would be closely watching what President Barack Obama's new administration does and would welcome a real shift in the US approach.