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Obama Talks of 'New Beginning' With Iran

Image: Obama Talks of 'New Beginning' With Iran

By    |   Friday, 21 Mar 2014 12:10 AM

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated the Persian New Year (Nowruz) Thursday with  messages to Iranians touting the benefits of a final nuclear agreement with the United States and other international powers – even as Russia, one of Tehran’s top international backers, warned it might retaliate for Crimea sanctions by torpedoing the nuclear talks.

Obama sent a brief, conciliatory Internet video to the Iranian people expressing hope that ongoing negotiations would result in “a comprehensive solution that resolves the world’s concerns with the Iranian nuclear program.”

Special: Powerful New Movie Reveals Alarming Threats on U.S. Border – See Trailer Here.

The President offered Iran the possibility of “a new beginning” which would include “a better relationship with the United States and the Iranian people, rooted in mutual interest and mutual respect.”   

Stating that he had “no illusions” that negotiations would be difficult, Obama pointed to statements by Iran’s  supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denying that Tehran sought nuclear weapons, adding:

“So there is a chance to reach an agreement if Iran takes meaningful and verifiable steps to assure the world that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.”

On Thursday, the Obama Administration announced that U.S. academic institutions could operate exchange programs with their Iranian counterparts.

Secretary of State John Kerry sent  his own Nowruz message expressing hope that the Iranian people could “fulfill their aspirations,” the Associated Press reported. Kerry praised the concept of additional educational exchanges with Iran, stating that such a move would “reaffirm our belief that strengthening cultural and academic ties between our two countries benefits our two peoples.”

Iran has not responded directly to the overtures from Washington, although state media reported Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s statement that the nuclear talks “have progressed quite well.”

But on Wednesday, Ryabkov had a very different message about the Iran talks and the connection with events in Ukraine.

“We wouldn’t like to use these [Iran nuclear] talks as an element of the game of raising the stakes” between Russia and the West, Ryabkov said, according to Russian media reports.

“But if they force us into that, we will take retaliatory measures here as well,” he added.
Senior Obama Administration officials played down the notion that there is a connection between the Iran negotiations and events in Crimea.

“Russia has no interest in nuclear proliferation, or an escalation of the situation in the Persian Gulf,” one official told Time on Thursday. “They’re invested in the diplomacy with Iran because it’s in their own interest — it’s not a favor to us.”

But many outside experts, however, think policymakers are deluding themselves if they think the two issues can be separated.

“Both Russia and Iran have significant global aspirations and view the United States as the biggest obstacle to achieving their goals. Recent events have pushed Russia and Iran closer together, which will result in dangerous consequences for the United States,” former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra wrote in a recent Newsmax op-ed.

Hoekstra believes the Iranian nuclear talks will fail without Russian support, and that Moscow’s “aggression in Ukraine against strong Western opposition” illustrates that it is quite prepared to disregard U.S. and Western objections to its behavior.

He believes that Iran will take advantage of the turmoil generated by events in Ukraine to strengthen its  nuclear-weapons program.

"We've got very few, very limited options," Hoekstra said Wednesday in an interview with Newsmax TV. "You can always do things, but can you do the types of things that will rein in or restrict Putin and Russia and Iran right now?”

Special: Powerful New Movie Reveals Alarming Threats on U.S. Border – See Trailer Here.

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President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated the Persian New Year (Nowruz) Thursday with messages to Iranians touting the benefits of a final nuclear agreement with the United States and other international powers.
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2014-10-21
Friday, 21 Mar 2014 12:10 AM
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