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Obama 'Letter' To Supreme Leader Generates Iran Debate


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

A "Boston Globe" article reporting that U.S. President Barack Obama is considering sending a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has spawned much debate in Iran's online media and blogosphere.

"The Boston Globe" reported on March 11 that the Obama administration is leaning toward making a major diplomatic overture to Iran before the June 12 presidential election:

This initiative could come in the form of a letter from President Obama to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to two senior European diplomats who have met in recent weeks with key State Department officials crafting a new US policy toward Iran.

The letter would be aimed at initiating talks over the Iranian nuclear program and Iran's role in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

It would be the first formal communication between an American president and Iran's leadership since Washington cut diplomatic ties with Tehran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

State Department officials yesterday declined to comment on their plans for changing Iran policy until they complete an ongoing review.

But on Monday, State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood told reporters: "We have offered our hand to the government of Iran, and we hope to be able to engage this government on a whole range of issues. But a lot of it's going to depend on Iran and its willingness to engage and its willingness to change its behavior in a number of areas where we have concern."

The popular Asriran.com notes that President Obama has not yet sent a reply to the letter that was sent to him, shortly following his election victory, by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

In the unprecedented letter Ahmadinejad congratulated Obama on his victory and gave him some of his usual moral lessons.

In the Iranian blogosphere, Kaghaz Pareh writes that "finally the U.S. understood that only the supreme leader matters and all the others are [worth nothing]."

Pareh expresses hope that relations will improve between Iran and the United States yet adds, "I’m just concerned that one day when these two get along, who are we going to blame for all the economic, social, and political problems that we now blame the U.S. for?"

To Mapushan Sokhanha Ke dari (which means "don't cover the words you have") argues that Iran's hard-line Ahamdinejad is likely to benefit from such a move because he would claim that his tough stance has made Obama retreat.

Or there's this cartoon by Nikahang Kosar. The caption reads: "To Ahmadinejad's Superior."

(A well-known Iranian cartoonist, Kosar spent some time in jail in Iran in 2000 for a cartoon deemed offensive by the Iranian authorities.)

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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