LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- US President Barack Obama has made a passionate appeal directly to the Iranian people to support the path of "reason," in step with international powers, over isolation and conflict over its nuclear program, in a holiday message marking the Persian new year.
"I want to take this opportunity once again to speak directly to the people and leaders of Iran," Obama said in his video message. He issued a similar message last year when negotiations were also being held. "This year, we have the best opportunity in decades to pursue a different future between our countries."
between Iran and United States are currently under way over Tehran's nuclear program on the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, after nearly two years of talks. Alongside the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany, the parties seek a political framework agreement containing Iran's nuclear program by the end of the month.
"The days and weeks ahead will be critical," he said. "Our negotiations have made progress, but gaps remain. And there are people, in both our countries and beyond, who oppose a diplomatic resolution."
"My message to you—the people of Iran—is that, together, we have to speak up for the future we seek," he continued, adding that his hopes for the Persian new year, Nowruz, include "our hopes for progress between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international community, including the United States."
While US diplomats broke off negotiations in Europe before Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas, Iran's negotiating team has suggested a willingness to stay through their New Year's Eve, a particularly important cultural holiday in the Islamic Republic.
The president said that, in a sense, "Iran’s leaders have a choice between two paths." They can choose the path of continued isolation, conflict and economic decline through sanctions; or they could choose a "reasonable deal" over its nuclear program.
Calling the opportunity "historic," Obama said the diplomatic offer before Iran may not come again soon and encouraged its leaders not to miss out.
"It can lead to a better path—the path of greater opportunities for the Iranian people. More trade and ties with the world. More foreign investment and jobs, including for young Iranians," the president proposed, should a deal be reached. "A nuclear deal now can help open the door to a brighter future for you— the Iranian people, who, as heirs to a great civilization, have so much to give to the world."
Obama went on to quote Persian poet Hafez, who once wrote on the coming of springtime: Try to be joyful in your heart. For many a flower will bloom while you will be in clay.
"For decades, our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear," Obama said. "Now it is early spring. We have a chance—a chance—to make progress that will benefit our countries, and the world, for many years to come."
"It is up to all of us," he continued, "Iranians and Americans, to seize this moment and the possibilities that can bloom in this new season."