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Obama Says Still Open To Dialogue, Diplomacy With Tehran

U.S. President Barack Obama has renewed his administration's offer of dialogue and diplomacy with Tehran.

In a new videotaped appeal to mark the observance of Norouz, Obama said Washington is committed to a "more hopeful" future for the Iranian people despite U.S. differences with Iran's government.

Obama said the United States will increase educational exchanges for Iranian students to study in the United States.

The U.S. leader also said the United States will do more to increase access to Internet technology so Iranians could "communicate with each other, and with the world, without fear of censorship."

Obama told Iranians that the United States' offer of diplomatic dialogue still stands but that the Iranian government has chosen isolation.

Obama also said Washington is working with the international community to pass fresh UN Security Council sanctions against Iran because Tehran refuses to live up to its "international obligations."

Iran refuses to halt its uranium enrichment program and denies its nuclear program is aimed at building a nuclear weapon as some in the West charge.

Last year, Obama used his Norouz message to offer Iran a "new beginning" of diplomatic engagement with the United States.

But Tehran rebuffed Obama's gesture and relations soured further when Iranian authorities cracked down on opposition protesters after a disputed election last June, drawing U.S. condemnation.

compiled from agency reports