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Rafsanjani Questions sincerity of Obama's message to Iran

TEHRAN, Mar. 27 (Mehr News Agency) - Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Friday that President Barack Obama's message to Iran on Norooz, the Persian New Year, included statements which in fact showed there was no sincerity behind it.

Rafsanjani even indirectly suggested that if Obama was sincere in his overture toward Iran he could deliver his message in a "formal way".

President Obama speaks in videotaped message to Iran
on 20 Mar 2009

Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak

In his message on March 20, Obama offered diplomatic engagement between the two countries. He said, "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."

However, Obama claimed that a right place for Iran "cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."

Rafsanjani said, "If there was really an intention for negotiations there was no need to make those statements... The raising of charges such as terrorism... demonstrated what the new American president is seeking and this is not correct."

Rafsanjani, the chairman of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, reiterated the position of the Supreme Leader in regard to Obama's change of tone, saying "Iran seeks change in practice".

Rafsanjani said the Obama administration must "show goodwill. They (U.S. officials) have been working against the Iranian nation and therefore today they must show goodwill."

Rafsjani said Iran had been asking Washington to release the Iranian assets which have been illegally frozen in U.S. banks as signs of goodwill.

Rafsanjani praised the Supreme Leader's response to Obama in Mashhad on Saturday.

"The Leader was right as the changes should be shown in practice - the release of the frozen Iranian assets could be a first step in this regard," Rafsanjani told worshippers in Tehran.

However Rafsanjani added, "In fact we have no animosity with anybody and if the U.S. administration behaves correctly this is not our intention to show enmity."

Miliband lauds Obama 's 'outreach', urges Iran to respond

On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband praised President Barack Obama's "outreach" to Tehran and urged Iranian officials to seize the "opportunity" created by America's olive branch.

"There will never be a better opportunity than that created by President Obama's election and his commitments and his recent outreach to the government and people of Iran," Miliband told an audience in London which was posted on the Telegraph website.

In a conciliatory message marking the Persian New Year, Obama has offered Iran direct talks and hailed the "achievement" of the Iranian art and culture.

"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," Obama said in

his message on March 20.

However, Iran has asked the Obama administration to take practical steps to prove that Washington's behavior toward Tehran has really changed including unfreezing the Iranian assets and ending charges that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

Italy says EU must embrace Obama's engagement of Iran

Italy's House Speaker Gianfranco Fini said on Wednesday that the European Union must back U.S. President Barack Obama's video appeal to Iran, Xinhua reported.
"We must not be passive actors," Fini told a press conference in Rome.

Fini said countries like Italy and Germany which have extensive commercial ties with Iran needed to make a particular commitment.

In a congratulatory message to Iranians on Norooz, the Persian New Year, last week Obama called on the Iranian people and leadership to put aside 30 years of differences, offering "a new start" in relations.

Fini called Obama's gesture to Iran "innovative and courageous."

... Payvand News - 03/27/09 ... --

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