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Obama walks fine line on Iran protests

The president offers little support for protestors to avoid alienating Iran’s supreme leader ahead of nukes talks.

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The political unrest in Iran presents the Obama administration with a dilemma: keep quiet in order to pursue a nuclear deal with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, or heed the calls to respond more supportively to the protesters in Iran's cities - and risk alienating the Shiite cleric.

President Obama and his advisers have struggled to strike the right tone, carefully calibrating positive messages about the protests in an effort to avoid giving the government in Tehran the excuse to portray the demonstrators as pro-American. Nevertheless, the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents American interests in Tehran, to complain of "interventionist" comments by U.S. officials, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

In an apt summing up of the administration's position, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters: "We are obviously waiting to see the outcome of the internal Iranian processes, but our intent is to pursue whatever opportunities might exist in the future with Iran."

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