Iran has given a cautious welcome to President Barack Obama’s offer of a fresh diplomatic start, but demanded more than just talk. The President marked the Iranian New Year by proposing a new relationship between Tehran and Washington, based the acceptance of responsibility by both sides.
US/Iranian relations have been frozen for years, since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and the subsequent storming of the American embassy in Tehran. The freeze has not been helped as Iran pursued its nuclear energy programme, said by the West to include atomic weapons. “My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community,” said the President. “The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right – but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilisation.” A spokesman for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran wants practical steps from America, and called for fundamental change in Washington’s policies. Obama’s message was not mentioned on Iran’s main television bulletins, but was reported by news websites.