POTUS Sends Special Video New Years Greeting to Iranians

President Obama send videotaped message for the Persian New Year, Nowruz, to Iranians. The message included a subtitled Farsi translation.

"I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the president says in the video.

Even in this, there is significance, says Trita Parsi at the National Iranian American Council.

"By using the term "Islamic Republic," Obama is also signaling America’s acceptance of Iran’s revolution," Parsi says. "This does not mean that America will not welcome democratization in Iran, but it does signal that the policy of regime change has been cast aside."

Nowruz celebrates the arrival of Spring and the beginning of a new year, beginning with the vernal equinox. An Obama administration source says that while traditionally, the President and Secretary of State have have released paper statements for Nowruz, President Obama wanted to address the Iranian people and government more directly.

"In this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders," the President says. "We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect."

The United States, the president asserts, "wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."

Parsi says that "Obama is focusing on behavioral change, not regime change," which "is a significant break with the Bush Administration policies." Parsi

Through this speech, President Obama expresses "tremendous respect and recognition of the Iranian nation and civilization," Parsi says. "He shows an important understanding of the uniqueness of the Iranian civilization, a point that likely won’t be lost on the Iranians."

Mr. Obama even invokes the poet Saadi, saying, "The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence."

- jpt

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