US President Barack Obama has made an unprecedented videotaped appeal to Iran, addressing its people directly.
In a message marking Iranian New Year holiday celebrations, he offered a “new beginning” of diplomatic engagement with America’s longtime foe. “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,” Obama says in the recording. “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.” Branded part of an “axis of evil” by the Bush administration, Iran has welcomed Obama’s overture. But a senior adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged concrete action from the US to “repair the mistakes committed against Iran.” Some 30 years after the US hostage crisis in Iran, the two countries are at loggerheads over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Washington says the programme is aimed at building atomic weapons. The Islamic Republic insists it is for the peaceful generation of electricity.