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White House ducks issue of Iran request

Press TV - The White House has given a cautious response devoid of any real content to an Iranian call for concrete change in US policy toward Tehran.

On Saturday, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said the US must demonstrate change in practice if it is seeks rapprochement with Iran.

"They use the slogan of change but in practice no change is observed... We haven't seen any change."

Ayatollah Khamenei nevertheless left the door wide open for President Barack Obama to demonstrate real change and said, "If you change your attitude, we will change our attitude."

The remarks came one day after the US president, in an unprecedented Nowruz message, offered Tehran a "new beginning" to turn back the tide on three decades of mutual animosity.

"For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained. But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together," President Obama said.

"We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect," he added.

On Monday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs gave the first official US reaction to the Iranian statement by expressing hope that Tehran will change.

"This was an effort and an opportunity to speak directly to the Iranian people and their leaders to underscore the potential for a new and changed relationship, based on our shared rights and responsibilities," Gibbs said.

"The president believes it's time for that change, and regardless of any response, the president is hopeful that the Iranian leadership will work to change the way that they do business," he added.

There was no mention of how Obama intends to change the US stance on Iran.

Washington has recently extended a set of sanctions against Iran for another year and claims Tehran is a threat to US national security.

In April 1995, a total embargo on dealings with Iran by US companies was imposed by the Clinton administration. The sanctions also banned American companies from helping Iran to develop its oil industry.

The sanctions would have expired if Obama had not extended them.

Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations for nearly three decades. The two countries severed all ties in the aftermath of the US embassy takeover by Iranian students.

... Payvand News - 03/24/09 ... --

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