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Report: Obama Team Drafting Letter To Heal Iran Rift

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad

LONDON (Reuters) -- Officials of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration are drafting a letter to Iran from the president aimed at unfreezing U.S.-Iranian relations and opening the way for face-to-face talks, Britain's "Guardian" newspaper has reported.

The U.S. State Department has been working on drafts of the letter since Obama was elected last November, the report said. It was a response to a letter of congratulations sent by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad after Obama's poll victory.

The letter gives assurances that Washington does not want to overthrow the Iranian administration, but instead seeks changes in its behavior. It would be addressed to the Iranian people and sent directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or released as an open letter.

In Washington, a State Department official said the policy on Iran is under review at the moment and declined comment that a letter was possibly being prepared to send to the Iranians.

"No decision on any specific policy initiative has yet been decided by the State Department," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The United States broke off diplomatic ties with Iran after students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran following the 1979 revolution.

U.S. suspicions that Iran was trying to develop a nuclear weapon and the presence of thousands of U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq have been the main hurdles to rebuilding relations in recent years.