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Washington vows to keep courting Tehran

Source: Press TV

Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton

The Obama administration promises to continue to reach out to Iran, while Tehran urges 'real' change in continued 'hostile' US policies.

"We have a long held view that there are going to be difficult obstacles to engaging in the short run with the Iranians, but we're going to continue to reach out," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Mexico on Thursday.

In his Nowruz message marking the Iranian New Year (March 21), Obama said he was ready to bring 'new beginnings' to the relations with Tehran, but he also brought up accusations made by previous US administrations about Iran sponsoring terrorism.

"We are doing what President Obama said we would do. We are reaching out to the Iranian leadership but equally importantly to the Iranian people," she said adding US President Barack Obama's message was an example of the administration's outreach to Iran.

"I think his speech had a very positive effect and was certainly well received by many of the people in Iran," said Clinton.

She failed, however, to recognize the unsavory effects of Obama's reference to nuclear and terrorism allegations against Iran.

A day after Obama delivered his mixed message, Iran's most senior official and Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei responded to the US leader , criticizing his attack on the country's nuclear program.

"They congratulate Iranians on the New Year but at the same time they accuse Iran of supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear arms," Ayatollah Khamenei said on Saturday.

The Leader said Washington had changed its 'tone', but had shown no sign that there was any real change in the hostile policies adopted towards Iran since the beginning of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"They tell us to come and sit at the negotiating table. Under the slogan of change, they say let's mend the ties. Where is the change? Clarify this for us."

"Have you released the frozen assets of the Iranian nation? Have you lifted sanctions against us? Have you stopped spreading allegations against us?" the Leader asked.

Ayatollah Khamenei did not, however, rule out the possibility of a more harmonious coexistence between the two states should Washington end its animosity towards Iran.

"You change. We will change too," said Ayatollah Khamenei, stressing that US change of policy must be 'genuine'.

US welcomes Iran in Afghan meeting

The US welcomes Iran's participation in talks over the increasing international cooperation in Afghanistan, due to take place in the Netherlands.

Following Iran's Foreign Ministry announcement on Thursday that Iran's delegation would join a conference on Afghanistan in the Netherlands on March 31, the US State Department said in a statement that Iran's presence was 'a welcomed move'.

"We do want this conference to be a regional conference. A regional conference would be incomplete without Iran," US State Department spokesman, Gordon Duguid, said on Thursday.

With the Taliban stepping up its insurgency and the deterioration of security conditions in Afghanistan in the last two years, the United States is intent on a conference that can strengthen international cooperation in the war-torn country.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will attend the meeting at The Hague as the head of the US delegation. Richard Holbrooke, the special US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will also attend the meeting.

Meanwhile, Clinton has rejected any plans for 'substantive' bilateral talks with Iranian officials on the sidelines of the conference.

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

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