WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama said he expected "steady progress" resolving disputes with Iran after he made an unprecedented video appeal to the Islamic republic.
Obama last week urged an end to three decades of animosity in a message for the Iranian New Year Nowruz, marking a sharp break from his predecessor George W. Bush.
"Some people said, 'Well, they did not immediately say that we're eliminating nuclear weapons and stop funding terrorism,'" Obama told a news conference.
"Well, we didn't expect that. We expect that we're going to make steady progress on this front," he said.
Obama was explaining how he planned to be persistent despite setbacks, saying he would also push ahead with peace efforts in the Middle East.
"If you are persistent, then these problems can be dealt with," Obama said.
"That whole philosophy of persistence, by the way, is one that I'm going to be emphasizing again and again in the months and years to come as long as I'm in this office."
Washington and Tehran broke off diplomatic relations following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in which Iranians overthrew the pro-Western shah.
Iran has come under UN sanctions for refusing to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment, which the United States and its allies say is a cover to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran is also accused of funneling arms to the militantly anti-Israeli movements Hezbollah and Hamas. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stirred outrage by doubting the Holocaust.
In a decisive break with Bush, who branded Iran part of an "axis of evil," Obama said in his Nowruz message that Iran could take its "rightful place" in the world if it renounced terror and embraced peace.
"For nearly three decades, relations between our nations have been strained," he said. "But at this holiday, we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together."
Iran responded by welcoming Obama's olive branch but urged him to take concrete steps to repair US "mistakes."
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