Iran's Khamenei rebuffs Obama overture

Obama has a long and difficult journey ahead of him as he attempts to improve relations with Iran.

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Iran’s Khamenei rebuffs Obama overture
Iran’s supreme leader says Tehran seeks U.S. policy shifts, not merely ‘changes in words.’ The U.S., he says, could begin by lifting economic sanctions and retracting 'hostile propaganda.'
By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
8:50 AM PDT, March 21, 2009
Reporting from Tehran and Beirut – Iran’s most powerful figure today dismissed President Obama’s extraordinary Persian New Year gesture, insisting that the U.S. administration’s actions must match its rhetoric before Iran would alter its foreign policy stances.

Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who is Iran’s highest spiritual, military and political authority, told supporters in his hometown of Mashhad today that “changes in words” won’t be enough to convince Iran that the Obama administration is sincere in its outlook.

“We do not have any record of the new U.S. president,” he said in a live television broadcast. “We are observing, watching and judging. If you change, we will also change our behavior. If you do not change, we will be the same nation as 30 years ago.”

The crowd chanted, “God is great! Khamenei is the leader!”

As he spoke, Khamenei glanced cursorily at his notes, suggesting his words were carefully considered. His remarks were the most detailed and authoritative response by any Iranian leader to several attempts by the Obama administration to reach out to the Islamic Republic.

Obama early Friday morning issued a 3 1/2 -minute videotape congratulating Iranian people and officials on the occasion of the important holiday, acknowledging 30 years of strained relations and offering a new beginning.[/quote]

Iran’s Khamenei rebuffs Obama overture