[Vision2020] Obama's Message to the Iranian People

nickgier at roadrunner.com nickgier at roadrunner.com
Fri Mar 20 10:49:17 PDT 2009

March 20, 2009
Obama Extends Iran an Olive Branch on Videotape

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Obama issued an unprecedented videotaped appeal to Iran on Friday, offering a “new beginning” of diplomatic engagement to turn the page on decades of United States policy toward a country America has long been at odds with.

“My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties,” Mr. Obama said in a message that was released to select broadcast outlets in the Middle East and was timed for the Nowruz holiday celebration in Iran.

Mr. Obama went further than he has since taking office on Jan. 20 in extending an olive branch to Tehran.

The two countries have been locked in disputes with Washington over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support for militant Islamic groups.

The Obama administration — in a major shift from President George W. Bush’s isolation policy toward Iran, which he once branded part of an “axis of evil” — has expressed an openness to direct diplomatic contacts with Iran.

Reaching out to Tehran, Mr. Obama said: “This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”

He said the United States wanted Iran to take its “rightful place in the community of nations” but insisted that Tehran would have to do its part to achieve reconciliation.

“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 civilization,” Mr. Obama said.

“And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create,” he added, alluding to Iran’s contested nuclear program and its missile development efforts.

To stress the seriousness of Mr. Obama’s overture, the White House distributed the videotape to broadcasters with Persian-language subtitles.

It also posted it on the White House Web site, to coincide with Iranian observance of the ancient festival of Nowruz, which celebrates the arrival of spring.

“Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture,” Mr. Obama said. “Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place.

“Here in the United States,” he continued, “our own communities have been enhanced by the contributions of Iranian Americans. We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.”

Later, the president said: “You will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays — by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope.”

He told the Iranians: “Let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: ‘The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.’ ”

President Obama concluded the unusual message by saying, “Thank you, and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak.”

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