Iran’s foreign minister studying Obama’s message


Tehran : In a first official reaction, Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki late Friday said he was studying an offer by US President Barack Obama to open a new era in relations and put old divisions aside.

Support TwoCircles

In a video message to Iran on Nowruz, which is Iranian New Year, Obama early Friday offered a new beginning, saying the United States was committed to engagement, not threats, in its pursuit of diplomacy.

Showing a cool reaction to Obama’s offer, Mottaki said:”It is nice that Nowruz is used as an occasion for messages of peace and friendship – but as far as other aspects (in the message) are concerned, they are under evaluation,” Mottaki said.

Observers expected that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will make a clear comment on the Obama message Saturday, in his annual Persian Nowruz speech in the religious city of Mashad in northeastern Iran.

Khamenei, in line with the constitution, has the final say on all state affairs.

Obama made the remarks in a broadcast with Farsi subtitles by Voice of America’s Persian News Network, which is widely viewed by satellite in Iran.

“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 said.

The US president said it was Iran’s choice whether it takes “its rightful place in the community of nations” – a place that “cannot be reached through terror or arms.”

Earlier Friday, presidential press advisor, Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, who holds no official position, reacted coolly to the offer and reiterated the stance of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the US should change its policies in practice before approaching Iran after three decades of diplomatic estrangement.

On a separate issue, Mottaki indicated that Iran would attend the Afghanistan conference March 31 in The Hague.

“Iran has constantly played a positive and constructive role in aiding Afghanistan, and Iran’s policy has always been playing a part in reaching solutions for Afghanistan,” Mottaki said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that it was expected that Iran would be invited to the conference.